Laura Mitchell Relaxation Techniques
This technique involves getting to know and understand muscles and how they can create tension within your body. It involves stretching and then relaxing the different muscle groups.
To begin with you should try to work through the whole sequence. This will help you to identify the parts of your body that seem to contain the most tension and the parts that you feel the most relief from. Once you are familiar with the technique, then you just ‘scan’ your body for the points of tension and just focus on those to make you feel more relaxed.
The ideal situation is for you to be familiar enough this type of relaxation to be able to say it to yourself whenever you need it.
Begin by lying down or sitting on a comfortable, supportive surface with your head supported by pillows.
When you practise this technique make sure you can feel the stretch but not so much that it feels painful. Keep the muscle stretched for around 5 seconds (count 100; 200; 300…to slow your counting down). When you relax the muscle, keep it relaxed for a slow count to 10. Focus on the difference between how the muscle felt before you stretched it and how it feels after you have let it go. Stretch and relax each muscle twice before moving onto the next one.
- Shoulders. Pull your shoulders down towards your feet. Hold for a count to 5 and then release to a count of 10. Feel the new position as you release the muscles.
- Elbows. Stretch your elbows so that your arms straighten. Hold for a count to 5 and then release to a count of 10. Feel the new position as you release the muscles.
- Hands. Stretch your fingers out straight. Hold for a count to 5 and then release to a count of 10. Feel the new position as you release the muscles.
- Trunk. Push your trunk into the bed or chair so that your body makes contact with the chair or bed. Let it go. Feel the new position of your body as you release the muscles. Feel that your body is completely supported by the chair and body and your muscles aren’t having to tighten to support you.
- Thighs. Roll your thighs away from one another, hold for a count to 5 and then let them go. Feel the new position as you release the muscles.
- Calves. Pull your toes and ankles up so the back of your calves stretch. Hold for a count to 5 and then let them go. Feel the new position as you release.
- Eyes. Close your eyes but raise your eyebrows up as far as they will go. Feel the tightness in the muscles in your forehead for a count to 5. Then just let them go. Feel the new position as you release them.
- Mouth and jaw. Keep your lips lightly together but let your teeth part and make sure that your tongue is dangling in the middle of your mouth. Feel the difference in your mouth and cheek muscles as you do this.
- Breathing. Focus on your breathing and make sure it is relaxed. Now breathe in deeply to a count of 3 allowing your stomach to expand and then breathe out slowly to a count of 6. Do this once more and then return to your relaxed breathing pattern. With each breath feel yourself relaxing further down into the surface you are resting against.
By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH