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Seven Ways to Practise “Micro-Relaxation”

Would you like to feel totally relaxed in less than a minute? Then read on. Here’s a fun way to find an oasis of peace in the midst of a busy life.

The main holiday of the year is something to look forward to. We know we need to relax and so we save up our anxiety and stress and trust that two weeks in the sun will restore our sanity and return us to being fully human. On the other hand, every week-end is meant to offer a break from the routine pressures of life and a chance to unwind and relax. But what if we cannot wait for that big holiday break? Or the week-end passes without ofering respite?

Some people have tried meditation, or yoga, or swimming. I sometimes find a good dig of the garden restores balance in the way I see life. But even these activities require preparation and dedicated time. So here are some ideas that can be practised at the desk, when stationary in a traffic jam (not to be tried while driving!) or in the middle of a frustrating conversation with a colleague. I call them “micro-relaxation techniques”.

Each technique lasts less than 30 seconds followed by deliberately slow, deeper-than-normal breathing, as you feel the power of the relaxation take over your body and ‘re-set’ your mind.* Each technique involves clenching muscles in a specific part of the body as tightly as you can, then immediately relaxing the whole body and breathing. Here we go, then, from the top of the body:

  1. With eyes open looking at something that is still and bland – a blank wall will do fine – raise your eyebrows to the top of your head, stretching the muscle as you shrink your forehead and count to at least ten and twenty if you can manage it – then relax and breathe.
  2. Clench your eyes tight shut and count slowly to ten – then relax and breathe and allow time for your eyes to refocus.
  3. With eyes open looking at something that is still and bland – straighten your back then lift both shoulders as if they could touch your ears for a count of ten to twenty – then relax and breathe.
  4. With eyes open looking at something that is still and bland – straighten your back then push your shoulder blades back as if you were trying to get them to touch for a count of ten to twenty – then relax and breathe.
  5. Place your fingers on your shoulders, left hand to left shoulder, right to right, then tighten your biceps for a count of ten to twenty – then relax and breathe.
  6. Clench your fists, keeping them down at your side (especially if you are with someone else!) for a count of ten to twenty – then relax and breathe.
  7. Try this with any other single set of muscles such as those that curl the toes or tighten the tummy – hold for a count of ten to twenty – then relax and breathe.

You can do these standing or sitting. Do remember, just choose one technique at a time as this is about creating a fresh state of mind and body in a matter of under a minute. After trying a few different ones you’ll probably settle on one or two favourites.

*’re-set’ your mind = something like rebooting your computer to get it running smoothly.

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