NEED HELP TO REDUCE YOUR STRESS?

A major aspect of hypnotherapy is relaxation.  In order to achieve positive change, your therapist works with you to achieve a state of relaxation.  But, did you realise that the state of relaxation is in itself therapeutic, and simple relaxation tools can create major positive change to your levels of stress and health.

Stress affects hundreds of thousands of people every day.  Regular therapeutic relaxation helps you to cope more successfully with the chaos of 21st century life.  The simple act of becoming relaxed can have surprising health benefits, new research is showing. In addition to the obvious psychological effects of relieving stress and mental tension, the new findings indicate, deep relaxation, if practiced regularly, can strengthen the immune system and produce a host of other medically valuable physiological changes.

As a natural method, relaxation positively interacts with medication or other treatment and is suitable for everyone, regardless of level of fitness or health.

People who practice regular relaxation report feeling calmer, more confident and feel more able to cope with problems.  Habits such as overeating and smoking are easier to let go of and sleep patterns improve. 
Recently, research has shown more exciting effects of relaxation training.  For example, in asthmatics, relaxation training has been found to widen restricted respiratory passages.

Diabetics can benefit from relaxation, reducing the need for insulin, according to research at the Duke University Medical Center. In a series of studies, it was found that relaxation improved the body's ability to regulate glucose in patients with the most common type of diabetes.

And, research shows relaxation may help ward off disease by making people less susceptible to viruses.

Much interest in the use of relaxation has been for patients suffering from cardiovascular problems. A report in the British Medical Journal, for example, showed that patients who had been trained to relax significantly lowered their blood pressure, and had maintained that reduction four years later.

The Preventive Medicine Research Institute in San Francisco has found that relaxation lowers cholesterol levels and lessens the severity of angina attacks.

One of the major boons of relaxation training has been in lessening or alleviating chronic or severe pain. Such pain can arise from many different causes, including backache and chronic migraine or tension headaches.  In a recent article in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Kabat-Zinn reported a sharp decrease in pain and related symptoms in patients trained in relaxation. The patients were able to lessen or, in some cases, stop altogether their use of pain drugs.

The stress response

Whenever we encounter a stressful event, our bodies undergo a series of involuntary hormonal and biochemical changes. This automatic stress response, also called the fight-or-flight reaction, puts our bodies in alarm mode: heart rate speeds up, breath becomes shallow, muscles tense, and our digestive and immune systems temporarily shut down. The stress response is helpful in true emergency situations, but when it’s activated on a frequent basis it puts strain on both mind and body. 

The relaxation response
No one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract it by learning how to evoke the relaxation response, a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response brings your system back into balance, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your muscles and organs, and increasing blood flow to the brain. Your heart rate decreases, breathing becomes slower and deeper and blood pressure stabilises.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help you activate this relaxation response.  Repeated activation of the relaxation response can reverse sustained problems in the body and mend the internal wear and tear brought on by stress.  What’s more, the techniques also serve a protective quality by teaching you how to stay calm and collected in the face of life’s challenges.

Learning deep relaxation
All you need to start relaxation practice is

  • A quiet environment – Choose a secluded place in your home, office, garden, etc., where you can relax without interruptions.
  • A comfortable position – Get comfortable, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a widely used strategy for relieving stress. The particular method described below involves allowing yourself to relax each muscle group throughout your body.

Method

Sit or lay comfortably, ensuring that you feel warm


Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing


Start to breathe easily from your abdomen


As you breathe, imagine breathing relaxation through your body


Shift your attention to your feet.  Think about the muscles in your feet and tell yourself to relax those muscles.


Say through your mind, “muscles relax,” feel the relaxation, breathe into it, let those muscles become loose and limp.


When you are ready, shift your attention to your ankles and calves.  Think about the muscles in your ankles and calves, and tell yourself to relax those muscles.


Say through your mind, “muscles relax,” feel the relaxation, breathe into it. Let those muscles become loose and limp.


Move slowly up through your body; legs, hips, back, stomach, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, head, face, until your entire body is relaxed. 


If you wish, you can now spend a little time imagining that you are in a very lovely tranquil relaxing place where you can just rest for a while.


When you are ready, tell yourself that you are ready to open your eyes and stretch out, and then do so, refreshed and alert.

The best way to start and maintain a daily relaxation practice is by incorporating it into your daily routine. Schedule a time each day for your relaxation. 

You can either stick to this straightforward relaxation exercise, or branch out into other relaxation techniques. Keep in mind that traditional relaxation techniques aren’t the only effective stress reducers. Spending time in nature, listening to music, curling up with a good book, writing a journal—anything that you find calming will relieve stress.
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If you would like more formal training or sessions to reduce stress and to strengthen your relaxation response, we give individual sessions (or group sessions by arrangement for organizations or companies) to teach relaxation training.  Alternatively, playing relaxation recordings, such as our own Calm and Confident CD (see products to buy page of this website) will give you the desired results in the comfort of your own surroundings.

For details of sessions, go to the Contact Us page.

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