We’re Just Sayin’… RELAX

As the season changes,  we are approaching the busiest time of year over the next few months. We believe that a vital part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle is being healthy and good to yourself. Do your mind and body a favor and relax! Although chilling out on the couch is nice, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. We’re referring to something that packs a far more powerful stress reducing punch.  That is, adding simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, into your regular routine. Give yourself some needed down time, while improving your overall sense of well being.

According to the Mayo Clinic, practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:

1.  Slowing your heart rate

2.  Lowering blood pressure

3.  Slowing your breathing rate

4.  Increasing blood flow to major muscles

5.  Reducing muscle and chronic pain

6.  Improving concentration

7.  Reducing anger and frustration

8.  Boosting confidence to handle problems

•   Practice daily: This is the best way to begin and stick with a regular routine.

•   Time yourself: Set aside at least 10-20 minutes (recommendation of most stress experts).

•    Be awake and alert:  Sleepiness will hinder the process.

•    Find an appealing technique:  Choose what best suits you and your lifestyle.

•   Go solo: Keep distractions to a minimum.

Deep Breathing

Important: When practicing deep breathing, it is essential to take in more oxygen. Breathing from your abdomen rather than your upper chest will accomplish this.

1.    Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.

2.    Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.

3.    Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.

4.    Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you have a hard time breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor.  Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Important: When practicing this technique, follow the most widely used sequence below.

•    Right foot
•    Left foot
•    Right calf
•    Left calf
•    Right thigh
•    Left thigh
•    Hips and buttocks
•    Stomach
•    Chest
•    Back
•    Right arm and hand
•    Left arm and hand
•    Neck and shoulders
•    Face

1.    Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.

2.    Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.

3.    When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.

4.    Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.

5.    Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.

6.    Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.

7.    When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.

8.    Move slowly up through your body — legs, abdomen, back, neck, face — contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.

Along with these simple techniques, you may also want to give meditation, guided imagery, yoga or tai chi a try.

While you’re busy trying to take better care of the planet, always remember to include taking better care of yourself.

Source: helpguide.org / mayoclinic.com

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