I recently contributed to an article written by Associate Editor, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., of Psych Central. Click here to read the full article.
Don't have time to read the full article? I will summarize my lesser known relaxation techniques below.
But first, lets clarify something...
The term "relaxation" is a bit problematic, as it is too prescriptive; When someone asks/tells us to relax, it is often the last thing we can do.
Rather, I prefer to call these "Acceptance Techniques."
The point is to gain acceptance and create space for your experience as it is. The focus is on ‘being,’ rather than ‘doing.’
So, without further ado.....
4 lesser know acceptance/relaxation techniques you might find useful:
1. Name it to tame it (AKA: Labeling):
This is a practice that’s often done in mindfulness meditation, but it can really be done anytime, anywhere. When labeling is used as a resource, it can help us to create space around difficult thoughts, feelings, or emotions, allowing them to be exactly as they are. As you go throughout your day, simply notice your experience and give it a label, such as judgment, desire, aversion, narrative, or simply label emotions as you notice them (i.e. sadness, anger, anxiety, etc.). Then, allow this experience to be as it is, and let go of any need to change or alter your experience in any way. This will give you an opportunity to make a choice about what you want to do with your experience. You can go on simply noticing your experience as it is, or maybe you will find that your experience is not useful or helpful in any way and decide to change it.
2. Viparita Karani (AKA Legs Up The Wall Pose):
This restorative yoga posture is naturally relaxing as it reduced blood pressure, stimulates blood circulation, relieves swelling in the lower body, calms symptoms of anxiety, and aids in sleep. Kick your legs up the wall, close your eyes, and allow your body to take in the natural benefits this pose has to offer.
3. Smell all the good smells:
Lavender oil has been used for cooking, cleaning, and medicine for thousands of years. More and more research supports that lavender oil, particularly the Lavender Angustifolia variety, can reduce pain, decrease anxiety and depression, stabilize mood, and aid in sleep. Place a few drops of lavender oil in a diffuser next to your bed when you sleep. It’s a really easy way to reap natural and effective benefits that are affordable and little to no side effects. Also, it has a lovely scent.
4. Write It Down:
So many clients report that they struggle with ruminating and obsessive thoughts, worries, and negative self-talk that they just can’t seem to get a handle on. I ask my client to grab a post it and write down their thoughts, plans, tasks, and self-talk and simply set it aside. Put them away, close them up in a book, or place it in a dresser drawer and come back to it later. This allows for them to symbolically remove these worries temporarily so that they can be present in their lives and maintain focus. Then when they are ready, they can always go back to the list and reflect on what was written as needed and when appropriate.