An Introduction to Relaxation: What Effect Does Relaxation Have On The Body?
We can never remove all of the stress in our lives but we can learn to cope better with the stressful situations that we encounter. Having a new baby or young children or just trying to juggle a busy life can all make us feel really stressed. Investing a little time in learning how to relax properly can give you the energy you need to face all of your daily challenges.
When it comes to your pelvic floor, learning how to relax can make it easier to breathe properly. This then makes it more likely that your Pelvic Floor Exercises will be effective in controlling your bladder weakness.
Over the next few weeks, here at Neen, we will be posting articles that teach you the four main relaxation techniques along with some simple meditation exercises. When used with breathing exercises, these will all help you to perform your pelvic floor exercises more effectively. We’re starting with a few facts and tips to help you get the most from relaxation.
What effect does relaxation have on the body?
When you are relaxed, your breathing becomes slower and deeper, your body produces less stress hormones, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure lowers. You also have more energy and don’t feel as tired.
Everyone responds differently to different relaxation techniques and you will find that some work for you and others that don’t. The important thing is to try them all until you feel familiar and comfortable with them and then see which suit you the best. If one irritates or annoys you then just move onto the next one.
It is normal to feel unusual physical sensations when you are performing relaxation techniques so don’t worry if this happens to you. This shows that you are becoming more attuned or connected to your body which is a very positive thing. This also helps when it comes to Pelvic Floor Exercises too.
To be successful relaxation techniques must:
• Relax but also energize you
• Not take too long to work
• Feel enjoyable
• Work most of the time for you
• After you have learnt them, they should be easy to do and not require lots of time or special equipment
Relaxation techniques take time to learn effectively and the more you put in, the more you will get out.
How to get the most out of your relaxation techniques.
• Set time aside to practise the techniques
• If you are too tired or sleepy then save your practise for another time
• If you learn better with others then ask a friend if they will learn the techniques with you and practise together
• Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature and you are not in an area where you will be constantly reminded of things you have to do – ie laundry or DIY
• Try to ensure you won’t be disturbed if possible. Tell other members of your family that you need some time to yourself
• Ensure you are not hungry or have over-eaten when you practise your techniques
• Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes
• Try to focus on one at a time until you have tried them all
Don’t think of relaxation exercises as being lazy or inactive. Time spent perfecting these techniques will make you more feel more energetic and motivated the rest of the time. Your body is like a battery. If you allow it to run to low then you can’t expect it to function very well. But if you recharge it regularly then it will perform its job so much better. Sleep is one part of that but rest alone won’t do the trick.
And finally, it is important to remember that all relaxation techniques are skills. To develop any skill, and become good at it, you need to practise. Try to practise the techniques as often as you can. When you start, practise them when you are not over-stressed, worried or wound up. Once you have mastered the technique and found out what works best for you, then you can use it to try to reduce feelings of stress or tension.
By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH