Time to Read (using avg wpm): 9 mins
This is part 2.
If you are here on accident because your dog walked across your keyboard and typed in the url and hit enter; but you like this kind of stuff and are still interested, click here to go to part one.
Otherwise– welcome to part 2.
Here’s what’s left to cover:
- Routine Relaxation
- Doug’s Take
- Final Words
Let’s just get right into it.
Routine relaxation is, essentially, habitually practicing relaxation.
As with any form of practice, the more you do it, the better you become at it. I recommend having a period in your day, every day, when you relax and ease down your mind and body.
I have used this sentence structure, where I break in the middle, four times in a row now.
I meditate every day at the end of my routine.
Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi (cool dude) would take a daily walk.
I can’t remember who, but someone I read about reads and watches the sunrise every morning.
What are the benefits of adding a relaxation period to your routine?
- Better Memory
- Better Health
- Progressively Better Results
“Stronger and more lasting memories are likely to be formed when a person is relaxed and the memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, scientists said on Wednesday.”
A relaxed mind is more capable of taking information in and storing it. So naturally, you will have better access to this information when you are looking for it.
When you are relaxed your mind is less distracted.
As you know; being amped up is your body’s evolutionary response to being in danger. Your blood flies through your body and your muscles pump up and get ready for action. This signals to your brain that there is a problem and your mind becomes consumed with solutions and actions to solve or avoid the problem.
This response can come in handy in certain situations but certainly not when you are trying to learn and remember things. In the end, the majority of the day should be spent in a relaxed state for a better ability to learn and grow.
Some sciencey relaxation and memory research:
What health issues can relaxation help?
To name a few:
- High Blood Pressure
- Brain Health
- Heart Disease
- Most Stress Related Ailments
Most stress-related ailments are from chronic stress or from the build up of stress. If you are constantly filling your stress meter and never taking the time to empty it, you are not only making life harder for yourself but you are hurting your body.
When you incorporate relaxation into your routine, you are able to consistently reduce your stress and control your stress meter.
Progressively Better Results
The more you practice your relaxation routine techniques, the better you will be at accessing their effects.
Using the stress meter metaphor, when you first start doing these techniques it will take you longer to initiate the decrease in your meter and when the meter does move it moves slowly.
As you practice more and more, the meter will start to descend sooner– and with more umph!
The moment we have all been waiting for… The techniques of mind knife sharpening!
The 3 best ways to relax in the moment, followed by the 3 best ways to relax in a routine.
In the Moment Techniques
Ahhh! You’re in a moment of high tension! Your boss is yelling at you and you are about to say something you will regret!
Your blood is racing and your nervous system is tense.
No prob. Keep your cool and know relaxation is just around the corner. Keep your job for now (for a good reference after you quit and go down The Loot Chutes) and then bring your blood pressure down and chill out your nervous system.
There is a reason the breathing technique is mentioned first. Used in conjunction with all the other techniques, even the routine relaxation ones, relaxed breathing will amplify your relaxation.
There are many different ways described to do the breathing, with plenty of techniques with catchy names and what-have-you. Ultimately it comes down to a few things.
You want to inhale through your nose until you are full, anywhere from 3-6 seconds. As you inhale, you want to keep your shoulders level. Your stomach and your chest should move out— but very little shoulder movement, if any. You follow this procedure for 2 reasons:
- To breathe with your diaphragm
- To keep tension out of your shoulders
The more you train your diaphragm while taking in air, the more you can take in and the longer you can exhale. You want to breathe in as much as you can without upsetting your body. If you are trying so hard to breathe in that extra bit of air that you have a nervous breakdown; you are not relaxing.
Once you are full of air, briefly pause and then exhale as long as you can. Slowly drop your chest and shoulders while you are exhaling to relieve tension and feel extra relief. You can also purse your lips and make a small blowing sound to relieve more tension (heard that on a podcast, sorry can’t remember which one…)
When you first start you should shoot for 8 seconds. If you beat that on your first go you are ahead of the class.
You repeat this process until you feel totally relaxed, usually taking between 3-10 times, depending on how anxious you have become.
Try it out now to get some muscle memory going and have a better chance to apply it when needed.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique is usually only used to help one get to sleep because it is progressive and kind of like counting sheep, mixed with relieving tension.
This works by making you feel the tension and then having you notice it slip away. It’s very easy and requires barely any explanation at all.
You start at the bottom of your body’s muscles, your feet, and move up to the top, your neck.
You tense up the muscle as tight as you can, without feeling pain, and hold for 5 seconds. Then release and focus on the soothing feeling replacing the tension. You can do both feet at the same time or one by one. After about 10-15 seconds of release, move up and clench:
- Shoulders and chest
If you even make it this far. Usually, I’m long gone.
If I am still around though, this is where I apply some visualization.
But wait! I almost forgot about breathing in conjunction. Do your inhale while you clench the muscles and exhale as you release them. That’ll get you good.
Up there when I said, “this is where I apply some visualization;” that was supposed to segue into this topic but I forgot about the breathing technique and had to add it in. So I would appreciate it if you pretended that I did that and am an amazing segue executor.
With visualization you imagine yourself in a relaxing scene. Somewhere like the beach or in a rain-forest– wherever you feel most relaxed.
I like to use visualization after my progressive muscle relaxation when I’m trying to get to sleep.
I use it in a weird way. My grandma used to help us, my brother and I (sharing a room), go to sleep by describing a scene to us of our body sinking into the sand. It sounds scary but it was super relaxing. She would do it progressively from our toes to our heads, with pauses in-between.
“You feel your feet getting very heavy– and sinking– Now your legs have a weight on them– and they are sinking,” she would say.
I don’t know what she said after that because I would be dead asleep.
I use the same thing on myself now, mentally, and I might as well hit myself over the head with a wooden mallet.
Routine Relaxation Techniques
I’d recommend using at least one of these techniques daily.
This is the technique I use in my routine. I use it at the end to get me relaxed and focused.
Meditation is all about awareness and presence. Find a position you feel comfortable in, cut out as much external stimuli as possible, take deep purposeful breaths and focus on your breathing.
I do it for 10-20 mins daily and it really gets me in a good, non-reactive, relaxed and focused state.
I’ve got a whole in-depth post about meditation here if you are interested in knowing more.
I guess you could probably guess that it depends on the song, no one is going to relax while singing to death metal.
When you sing you are telling your Autonomic Nervous System that everything is okay; that you are safe. It can relax and stop worrying about things and tensing you up.
You can include this as part of your day when you are doing dishes or the laundry.
I always sing when I drive, usually to little Maddi.
This is pretty cool and it’s been taking off only recently. Default mode is the mode your brain gets into while you are doing things that you don’t have to consciously think about while doing them, like shampooing your hair.
The most popular way to get into default mode of late is these new things called, “adult coloring books.”
Yep. Coloring books for adults.
It’s pretty cool. The pictures you have to color in are a lot more complicated but it’s essentially the same thing as coloring books. But really, coloring is the perfect example of something you can do without thinking.
Coloring is a great way to relax and enter default mode and if you read part 1, you know it’s a great way to unlock your creativity and see what ideas your subconscious comes up with.
Include this in your routine to experience the benefits of relaxing while practicing your ability to access your creativity.
Feeling pretty stressed
Anxiety– what a drag
Breathe and no more stress
A happy nervous system
Shampoo in my hair
Feeling pretty good
It must be relaxation
Thanks for your support
Wow… An inter-connected haiku triplet– Doug must have gotten into the good dog food today.
I hope this has helped you to understand when and how to use relaxation. It is a totally necessary part of life, even for us type A people.
When you are designing your routine, or already have one, I hope you include relaxation time for both it’s health benefits but also for it’s productivity benefits.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write them below. Thanks for reading!
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