Fortunately, it’s not your heart, but it is a warning response to stress overload. Your doctor tells you to try relaxation training to reduce your stress. Relax? You don’t have time to relax, but you don’t have time for a heart attack either – so you begrudgingly agree to give relaxation training a shot.
At first, relaxation isn’t a do-it-yourself project. After all, you were the one who got yourself into this stress mess, so do you really think you know how to change it? The good news is that once you learn relaxation techniques, you can practice them anywhere on your own. It’s a truly portable therapy.
Psychotherapy – Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or mental health counselor. Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean that you’re “mentally ill.” What you don’t know is that unless you get your stress and mood under management, you may be headed for a more serious psychological disorder.
Mental health professionals are also trained to teach you visualization, stress inoculation and other techniques that help you manage your stress. But these are therapies you might be able to learn on your own using DVD and CD tutorials.
Hypnosis – Hypnotists can teach you relaxation techniques using self-hypnosis. Contrary to false beliefs, you won’t suddenly quack like a duck or howl at the moon. These techniques are used by medical and psychological professionals for stress and pain management. In a few sessions you can learn all you need to know to do this on your own.
Yoga – Take a series of classes to learn the basic Yoga movements. This ancient technique involves the mind and body so completely that you relax, stretch and develop flexibility all at the same time.
You can get DVDs and books to help you with the moves at home. Rather than do this alone, schedule a Yoga class at least twice a week and pre-pay. That will motivate you to get out of the house or the office and get into an environment better suited for the relaxation of practicing Yoga.
Art or Photography – You don’t have to know anything about either of these to enjoy them. Forget perfectionism and just put some paint on a canvas or shoot some pictures. Go outdoors to a tranquil park, garden or solarium to practice your craft.
You aren’t trying to become proficient – just enjoy what you create. The time spent studying your subjects and looking at the results is what counts. Being creative, particularly if this is completely different than your usual work, can be highly relaxing.
Act like a kid – Choose a day twice a month when you act like a kid. Go to the park and swing. Draw on the driveway with colored chalk. Watch funny movies in your pajamas well into the afternoon.
Do something that is carefree and just plain fun. Once your stress level is down, keep up the relaxation training or you’ll be back in the same overload situation again. It may sound silly, but relaxing is something some people have to learn because it doesn’t come easy to them.
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