By Rich Presta
All systems of stress-reduction, relaxation, self-help, and self-improvement share many of the same fundamental precepts and methods, among these: relaxation.
The following are among the most practical and effective methods for inducing relaxation in any environment and circumstances, including while in the car.
Slow, steady, deep, focused, abdominal breaths are an express ticket to relaxation, especially while driving. They flood all the cells of the body (the blood, the muscles, the heart and brain, and so on) with nourishing oxygen and they release toxic carbon waste from the body’s cells.
As such, deep and conscious breathing is a cornerstone of all relaxation techniques.
Breathing into the abdomen particularly (the belly, the gut) is an oft-ignored key as, when in a state of stress (ie. fight or flight) and unconscious breathing, we breathe shallowly and into the chest and so breathing intentionally into our chests only promotes a stressful and less-than-conscious state.
Deep, conscious breathing is the sine qua non of all relaxation techniques, also, because it can be done anywhere, anytime, in any situation.
Everyone’s had the experience of stepping away from an argument in order to “collect yourself”. Relaxing in any situation, whether pressing or not, works the same.
All day, from waking to sleeping, our senses are bombarding with input, with typically no interruption. Reducing the amount of stimuli our senses are receiving and processing, gives our mind and emotions a break, a chance to rest, rejuvenate, and “reset” themselves.
Prevent sensory overload. Get off the cell phone. Tune out the sounds around you (ie. shut the windows and turn off the music).
Think Happy Thoughts
It’s cliché because it works. Even science now agrees; our thoughts produce our reality. Think pleasant thoughts and your inner and outer worlds both shape up pleasingly.
Visualize desired scenarios and states; daydream, fantasize. Remind yourself of the positive affirmations most meaningful to you: “This too shall pass”, “I am safe and secure and all is well in my world”, “God loves me”, etc. Pay yourself a compliment. Count your blessings. Give thanks.
Heed the Call of the Wild
For whatever reason, a natural setting devoid of the inventions of man and civilization relaxes and refreshes the human body and soul. If all your efforts to relax in your current environment fail to set your mind and heart at ease, escape to nature for a true breath of fresh air.
Find a forest, a mountain, or a beach nearby. Or a park, a lake, a garden. Go to a nursery. Stare at a flower, a tree, or a bush. Animals work too, especially wild ones (though we love our pets too).
Watch the sparrows or pigeons, the squirrels, a bee. Putting your attention on the simple wonders of nature – its sights, sounds, and smelss – is a refreshing reprieve from the intricate workings of your thoughts and emotions. Water, in particular, has a soothing and calming effect; sometimes a shower or bath is all that it takes to set you aright.