4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Relax

Quiet your mind, soften your jaw, let the tension flow out of your muscles…decrease stress hormones, change your physiology, create optimal well-being. Yes!

Relaxation 101…Inhale calm, exhale tension

  • Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and soften your jaw.
  • Let your breathing become rhythmic and smooth. There is no need to force the breath. Notice your breath as it moves in and out.
  • As you breathe in, see if you are able to imagine that you are breathing in a sensation of relaxation. With your exhale, imagine that your are breathing out any feelings of tension you may be holding. Just continue to do this for the next ten breaths.  Each breath is smooth and rhythmic; each breath in brings a feeling of relaxation, each breath out releases tension or tightness.
  • Assume a passive attitude.  Don’t worry about how well you’re doing.  When mindless thoughts occur (and they will!), simply observe the shift in your focus, let that go, and gently return your awareness to your breath.
  • Continue for 2 to 3 minutes. Over time, work your way up to a 10-minute practice.
  • When you have completed your relaxation, do not stand immediately.  Continue sitting quietly, allowing other thoughts to return.  Then open your eyes and sit for a moment before rising slowly.
  • Take one more moment to express self-gratitude.  Thank yourself for the gift you have just received—from you!
  • Practice the technique once or twice daily. The regular practice of eliciting the relaxation response will allow for more ease and familiarity. You will also reap the recuperative benefits to your health.

Relaxation as Medicine

Know your intention.

Adults experience an average of 50 stress responses a day! Whether you are awakened in the night by a wrong number phone call, can not find your car keys in the morning, or share in a difficult conversation with a colleague, each stress response has a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.

One way to diminish this negative impact is to take a moment or two out of your busy day for an intentional relaxation break, called Eliciting the Relaxation Response. Becoming relaxed is initiated by focusing on the rhythm of your breathing, which will allow your mind to become soothed and quieted. Not only will you enjoy an increase in focus and productivity, but perhaps more important is the decrease of the impact of the stress hormones. Just as a massage will relax tense muscles, a relaxation break will relax a tense mind.

There is a physiologic response that occurs when we become stimulated by an event, a thought, or physical discomfort. Commonly known as the fight or flight response, the changes that occur in the body are due to a hormonal cascade during which adrenaline and cortisol flood the body. The stress hormones will cause the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, increase blood glucose levels, and increase blood clotting. This protective mechanism is meant to prepare the body for the possibility of physical injury due to a “fight” and/or the need to take “flight”. If a vicious dog were charging you, these physical responses would assist you in getting out of the way in a hurry.

Hopefully, there is no charging dog. There is however the reality of daily events, such as family dynamics, job, traffic jams, and chores to name just a few, that can lead to a chronic sense of stress, worry, and hurry. The near constant presence of adrenaline and cortisol leads to an inflammatory response inside the body that may increase the risk to develop diabetes, coronary disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease. The increase in blood clotting can lead to a heart attack. Chronic stress interferes with good quality sleep, which in turn will lead to an increased sense of stress. Appetite can be affected negatively, with either less nutritious food choices being made, or too much food being consumed as a means to self soothe. Chronic stress can affect exercise habits, personal relationships, job performance, and could lead to behaviors that do not support optimal health.

Additional information will be provided in this and future newsletters to address relaxation techniques, healthy nutrition, and routine physical activity—optimal lifestyle choices that will lower your stress response, and your risk for disease.

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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