Maybe you often feel nervous, you sleep poorly, you have a race of thoughts in your head, you sweat, you can not stand still. Your body works at high speed. You can’t focus. And what if you had the skills that would help you achieve optimal arousal, thanks to which you will be able to reduce tension, silence running thoughts and focus on the goals you set for yourself?
Here, relaxation techniques come in handy, which can be successfully used both in sport and in everyday life. Relaxation is the exercises that help us achieve the optimal state of arousal. Thanks to them we can relax mentally and physically.
Stress has big eyes
Stress is one of the most popular words in recent years. We change them in all cases and constantly look for ways to avoid him, get rid of him, not let him overcome him. However, it is worth remembering that stress is a natural and inseparable element of our lives. This is the body’s normal reaction to emerging events or phenomena. Thanks to its existence, we were able to survive as a species and we can function every day. It does not carry only a negative load, among stressful events we find both those assessed as difficult, such as illness, accident, injury or dismissal, but also those that we associate with positive aspects: birth of a child, promotion, start or victory in a dream run. Each of these situations is perceived by the body as a stressful situation.
Fight or flight mode
We live very fast, in a culture where efficiency and multitasking matter. We divide time between work, trainings, passions, family life and rest. In the multitude of responsibilities, goals to achieve and tasks to accomplish, it is often difficult for us to find time for ourselves. We often do not allow ourselves to rest, it is difficult for us to relax and just be. Our brain, which processes huge amounts of information every day, is constantly on standby, which means that our body is on standby. In a stressful situation, the body tenses, automatically triggering one of the most primary reactions – fight or flight. In this way, the body tries to cope with the situation. A number of processes occur in the body, and the adrenal glands begin to produce stress hormones. The body is mobilized to act. Immediately after the “threat” subsides, the body should return to a relaxed state. It used to be this way, nowadays we are flooded with a lot of stimuli that the body reads as threatening or stressful. Our body remains mobilized to act for weeks or even months. Imagine that you squeeze your hand into a fist and hold it for a day, two, a week. It will be difficult or even impossible. Muscles get tired quickly. Strained in this way, the body begins to get tired over time. If we don’t respond to the stimulation dose with a dose of relaxation, the body will “burn out”. And as a consequence, it can lead to the appearance of various kinds of diseases or illnesses.
What’s in the body is also in the head
The body and mind influence each other. It is said that “what is in the head is in the body and what is in the body is in the head.” One of the precursors of relaxation techniques, Edmund Jacobson used to say that “a calm head cannot exist in a restless body.” If you take care of your body relaxation, your mind will also relax, if you calm your thoughts, your body will follow them and they will relax. To this connection, there is also the element necessary for relaxation – proper breathing.
Why is this so difficult?
It takes some time to go from fully ready to relaxed. This is why it is so hard to rest at the weekend or even during a week’s vacation after an intense period of work. We often come back after such rest with the feeling that we are even more tired. This is why, after a long and intense run, we may have difficulty falling asleep or reducing arousal. The body and head need time to regenerate and relax. It usually takes much longer than we allow them. However, it is worth remembering that in order to function effectively in life, work or training, we need relaxation, both physical and mental.
What is relaxation?
Relaxation is an exercise that helps us achieve optimal arousal and thus relax mentally and physically. It is active and conscious work with the body, during which the brain activity is gradually calmed down and the muscles relax. Of course, any activity during which the brain rests from analyzing, reworking hundreds of scenarios and plans in the head is the most beneficial. So we can read, hang out with friends, watch movies, walk or just “lie and smell”. However, if we have been in a state of continuous activation for a long time and feel that this stimulation is too much in us, it is worth reaching for relaxation techniques and tools.
In the context of sport, we use relaxation techniques to achieve the athlete’s optimal stimulation. Only then will he be able to concentrate on doing the task well, achieving the highest efficiency. Both too low arousal, which is associated with apathy and discouragement, as well as too high, manifested in nervousness, do not serve us in a starting situation.
Positive effects of using relaxation techniques can be observed regardless of the method used. When we are relaxed, our concentration, memory and creativity improve. We operate more efficiently and more effectively. The level of anxiety and fear decreases. We are more emotionally stable, we make decisions easier, we see new solutions and possibilities. We are more optimistic and communicative. Our self-esteem improves. We feel like establishing and maintaining relationships. At the body level, muscles relax, blood pressure decreases, breathing slows down, stress hormone levels decrease, the heart works slower, the immune system strengthens, metabolism slows down. Athletes also noticed reduced sleep problems before important competitions.
Types of relaxation techniques
There are many relaxation tools and techniques, below are the most popular ones:
- Breathing techniques
One of the easiest relaxation tools we’ve received is breath. There are many breathing techniques that focus on achieving specific results. At any time, when you feel nervous or irritable, you can always return to your breath, return to here and now. It is worth exercising the correct breath to fully enjoy its benefits.
- Schultz autogenic training
It is based on a sense of heaviness and self-suggestion. During exercise, we consciously awaken a feeling of heaviness and warmth in the muscles. This is body and mind training for relaxation, regeneration and improvement of comfort of life.
- Jacobson’s progressive training
It is also known as “from muscle to mind” training, and it is based on the assumption that mental relaxation is a consequence of physical relaxation. During the exercises, we alternately tighten and relax individual muscle groups. In this way, we learn to consciously relax muscles and thus eliminate too much tension.
- Imagination training
It is based on the assumption that our brain does not distinguish between the images we thought about from what actually happened. When you imagine something, your brain perceives this information as completely real. The technique is conscious creation
images in mind. Then the right hemisphere is responsible, including for intuition and creativity. Everything we think about is reflected in our body.
- Music Therapy
Music pieces can be divided into those that stimulate and motivate us, as well as those that relax, calm, calm down. When you listen to your favorite music, specific images or situations related to it come back to you. The brain produces endorphins. Music can release suppressed emotions, evoke feelings.
Also called mindfulness, it is a technique that teaches being here and now. During the exercises, we focus on observing what is happening at this particular moment, without judging, without analyzing. We learn to observe thoughts, we do not identify with them. We learn to observe things as they really are.
is an increasingly popular method in Poland based on a sequence of 8 simple exercises that trigger neurogenic tremors in us – vibrations. Thanks to them, our body frees itself from tensions, stress and emotions. These vibrations are a natural process that we have dormant in us through socialization. Over the years, we’ve been taught that shaking is something “bad”, associated primarily with fear, weakness or coping with the situation. The TRE® workout set reminds the body that shaking is good and can afford it. And thus release too much tension, stopped emotions and stress.
The article was published in Magazyn Bieganie (2018).