This week’s I Love Kent Island blog is on the topic of Relaxation and is courtesy of Natalie Santiago, Massage Therapist.
Natalie is located on Kent Island in Bella Rose Medical Aesthetics and has 18 years of experience and utilizes a variety of modalities to personalize a massage to fit your body’s needs. Here are Natalie’s suggestions of techniques you can use to relax.
Some of us walk around with chronic pain or discomfort every day because of our daily routines(or lack of). Others have been ignoring signals from our bodies for so long that it feels normal to have these issues. Let me be the one to yell, “It’s not normal to have dysfunction, tension, and pain.”
Although the best option is to see your massage therapist regularly, there are things we can do daily to release tension, relax our bodies and maintain feeling good. All we need is a little reminder of these simple tools we all have. Here are a few self-care relaxation techniques. Use them for yourself, remind someone you love to use them, and let’s all make a habit of it.
3 Powerful Relaxation Techniques
1. Breathing Exercises
Regulating your breath through various breathing exercises is one great way to calm your mind and relax your body. You don’t need to be anywhere special to do breathwork. You only need a couple of minutes to practice.
Stimulating Breath: Stimulating breath is a really old technique used to bring you more energy and mental focus. Keep your mouth closed and relaxed. Keeping your breaths short, inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose. You will make some funny noises and that’s normal. After three cycles, take a quick break. Breathe normally then try again.
Start with 15 seconds or less, then increase it gradually.
4 – 7 – 8 Breathing: The 4 – 7 – 8 breathing technique is quieter and you can do it anywhere. Get ready by exhaling all air through your mouth. Close your mouth. To the count of 4, inhale through your nose. Count to 7 while holding your breath. Let it all out through your mouth to the count of eight. Repeat this cycle at least 3 times twice a day.
Breath Counting: Breath counting is a Zen technique that can help you with relaxation as well. Find a comfortable sitting position keeping your spine straight. Close your eyes. Begin with a few deep and cleansing breaths. Breathe in then count to 1 as you exhale. Breathe in again and count to 2 as you exhale. Next time count to 3, then 4, then 5. You can repeat for as long as you feel necessary for you.
Sitting at the computer working all day creates muscle tension. Regular stretching, especially stretching your neck and shoulders can help with aches, stiffness, and fatigue. Repeating these simple stretching techniques daily can help your muscles to relax and make you feel better both physically and mentally:
Chin Turns: Begin by looking forward, then slowly move your chin to your left stretching the right side. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Move back to center then move your chin to your right repeating the same thing. Repeat this 2-3 times.
Head Tilts: Your starting position should be center. Tilt your head towards your right as if your ear was trying to touch your shoulder. Reach your right hand over your head and gently pull towards your shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds, move back to center then move on to the other side. Repeat 2-3 times
Shoulder reach: Reach your left arm across your chest and with your right hand hold the left arm for a stretch. Switch arms so that your right arm is across your chest and hold it with your left hand. Repeat 2-3 times.
Elbow Pull: First, raise your right arm up as straight as you can the bend it behind your head. Deepen the stretch by pulling your elbow towards your head with your left hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds then repeat the other side. Do this stretch 2-3 times.
Meditation can bring you immediate relief and help you be a more relaxed being. When practicing regularly, your mind and body will naturally learn to come back to a more centered, grounded, and relaxed state when stress, pain, or chaos arises. There are many ways to practice meditation. You can lie down or even find a movement meditation practice, such as dance or walking meditation.
Visualization is one form of meditation. Close your eyes and visualize your ‘happy place’. It can be anything, a beach, your cozy couch, the top of a mountain, the cozy hug of a loved one, your favorite yoga studio, or any place you love, feel happy and safe. Imagine being in this place by engaging all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch? How does it feel in your body?
Let yourself enjoy the moment.
Practicing relaxation methods like breathing exercises, stretching, meditation, and visualization can ease muscle tension, relax your body, calm your mind, reduce pain and improve your overall health. Use these relaxation tools as often as you need and take them on the go.