Section IV: Effective Relaxation Techniques
Effective Relaxation TechniquesPurpose of Relaxation Techniques:To return to homeostasisTo reverse the effects of the stress responseTo engage the parasympathetic NSTo alleviate the symptoms of stress
Effective Relaxation TechniquesEvery relaxation technique engages oneor more of the five senses:
Sight (e.g., visualization)Sound (e.g., music therapy)Taste (e.g., comfort foods)Smell (e.g., aromatherapy)Touch (e.g., muscle massage)
Effective Relaxation TechniquesThere are hundreds of ways to relaxSleep is not the same thing as relaxation (high blood pressure and muscle tension can occur during dreams)
Mind-Body Connection Although the relaxation techniques are geared to reduce the symptoms of stress (e.g. blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension) the mind and body cannot be separated and the mind benefits as well.
Diaphragmatic BreathingChapter 17
Let the air breathe for you.
-Emmett Miller, M.D.
Diaphragmatic BreathingIs one of the easiest and most effective methods of relaxationIt is controlled, deep breathingIn the practice of yoga, this technique is called the pranayama
Thoracic Breathing and The Stress ResponseBy and large, Americans are thoracic breathersWe breathe with the emphasis on our upper chestThe consequences include slight pressure on the sternum and pressure on the solar plexus nerve.This tends to trigger a slight stress response causing:A rise in heart rate, blood pressure, and other parametersThoracic breathing does not promote relaxationEveryone employs belly breathing when they sleep!
The Mystery of the BreathBreath is considered by many to be the universal life force of energy(e.g., Chi, Pranayama, etc.)Breath is synonymous with the word spirit in many culturesWe infer spirit with the word breath with the words:InspirationExpiration
Steps to InitiateDiaphragmatic Breathing Assume a comfortable position
Four Phases of Concentrated Diaphragmatic BreathingPhase I: inspiration (Long) Phase II: a very slight pause before exhaling (Short)Phase III: exhalation (Long)Phase IV: another slight pause after exhalation before the next inhalation is initiated (Short)
Other Techniques and Diaphragmatic BreathingThe majority of effective relaxation techniques integrate belly breathing
-Hatha Yoga -Massage Therapy-Tai Chi -Music Therapy-PMR -Biofeedback-Autogentic Training -Visualization-Others
Diaphragmatic Breathing & Chronic PainBreathing is often used to help people with chronic pain, both as a means to lessen the pain and serve as a pleasant distraction from pain.Its no secret that breathing is used for acute pain, as with Lamaze breathing during childbirth.
Visualization and Diaphragmatic BreathingVisualization exercise I: breathing cloudsVisualization exercise II: alternate nostril breathingVisualization exercise III: energy breathing
Best Application of Diaphragmatic BreathingThis technique can be done anywhere (e.g., driving, exams, falling asleep, etc.)This technique can be done relatively shortly for an effect (5-10 minutes)Never underestimate the power of a good sigh!