Creating skills for the future

Relaxation is a skill, which needs to be learned and practised over a period of
time. It does not come easily to most people and it is important to give it the
time and attention necessary to build effective skills. Muscle tension is common
when you have a difficulty with persistent pain and can contribute to
exacerbations in pain and heighten feelings of anxiety. For example, although
we may not always be consciously aware of it, we often sit with our jaws and
teeth clenched, shoulders hunched or stomachs drawn in which means our
muscles are working hard. This in turn is tiring.
Many relaxation exercises use the mind to focus inward on sensations and
tensions in the body and then work with this information to encourage the body
to let go of the tension or relax contracted muscles, leading ultimately to a more
relaxed physical and psychological state. Relaxation slows down the systems in
the body that speed up when we get anxious - you can’t experience feelings of
relaxation and tension at the same time.
Some of the benefits of relaxation:
 Decreases anxiety
 Promotes sleep
 Lowers blood pressure
 Reduces pain perception
 Helps improve mood
Updated J Fearn 2010
 Reduces the effects of stress
 Overcomes fatigue
 Energises
 Slows the heart-rate
 Helps to distract you from
worrying thoughts
Why breathing is good for your body
Oxygen is a nutrient, which is carried in the blood and is necessary for
metabolism in healthy tissues. Internal organs and muscles need a daily
amount of oxygen to survive and a great deal more to heal. When we get
the maximum amount of oxygen our body can work at peak capacity, but
extended periods of shallow breathing can result in poor concentration,
headaches and sleep problems. Improving your breathing can help you
sleep more soundly and increase your energy and stamina
Why deep breathing is good for your mind
Breathing affects how you think and feel too. Anger and anxiety makes
us take short, quick breaths, whilst relief makes us sigh. So if we learn to
control our breathing, we can learn to have more control over our
emotions. Knowing you can control how you feel also helps to increase
your self-confidence.
The method of breathing described here is to help your breathing pattern
and is a simple relaxation technique. It is called diaphragmatic
breathing and makes full use of the diaphragm - a sheaf of muscle
between your lungs and your stomach.
A useful way of practicing it is to make it part of your daily routine:
Start by getting yourself into suitable position e.g. sitting, lying
down, standing, leaning against something for support
Place your hands on your chest and your stomach
Focus your attention on your breathing, noticing your breath going
in through your nose and out through your mouth
Relax your shoulders on the breath out
Notice the hand on your stomach rising and falling and the hand
on your upper chest remains still
Repeat a few times to get the hang of it
Practice for up to 5 minutes daily to become more skilled at using
it in more challenging and unpleasant situations
Updated J Fearn 2010
1. Choose a time of day when you know that you will not be disturbed and
practice in a room on your own.
2. Loosen any tight clothing & go to the toilet before you start to practise
the exercises.
3. Make sure that the room is as quiet as possible.
4. Lie or sit on the bed, or in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your
arms lying comfortably by your side or in your lap. Move about as much
as you want before and during relaxation
5. After the relaxation, just rest for a few minutes and enjoy the feeling
before you get up and engage in activity. You should allow some time to
return to full alertness before driving or operating any equipment.
Updated J Fearn 2010