And……. relax

I have tried this today and am posting it here because it works. Extracted from Beat Stress by Dr Bill Munro and Frances Munro. It’s written for the Christian market but I guess you can use whatever words you find helpful at the end, or just go with ‘I am perfectly relaxed.’

Preparation for the exercises

1. You should practise the exercises for five minutes three times a day, with a fourth time in bed at night if you want to use them to get to sleep.

2. You need a quiet place where you will be undisturbed. You may need to take the phone off the hook.

3. Sit in a comfortable chair with your head either supported at the back or allowed to fall forward. Rest your hands gently on your thighs. Or you can do the exercises lying on your back on a couch or bed with your arms by your sides.

4. Take off your glasses if you wear them, loosen any tight clothes and kick off your shoes. This will give your brain the message that you are relaxing.

5. Relax as far as you can; don’t set yourself any targets. Some people find it very difficult to relax: the harder they try, the more tense they become. SO DO NOT TRY TO RELAX. JUST FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND LET THE RELAXATION COME. IT WILL HAPPEN BY ITSELF.

Remember, you are not practising the exercises in order to relax or sleep BUT ONLY to become good at the technique.

6. Read through the exercise notes carefully and then practise the exercises with your eyes closed in order to cut out distractions.

The relaxation exercises

1. Having closed your eyes, imagine that your arms and legs are heavy, DO NOT TRY TOO HARD but just become aware of the weight of your arms and legs. Say into yourself several times:

‘My arms and legs are heavy’

DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THEM HEAVY.

2. Imagine that your arms and legs are warm. Feel the warmth flowing down your arms from the shoulders, down the arms into your fingers – and similarly down your legs into your feet and toes. Say into yourself several times:

‘My arms and legs are warm.’

DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THEM WARM.

3. And then let your breathing deepen. DO NOT PURPOSELY TAKE BIG DEEP BREATHS – LET IT HAPPEN. Say into yourself several times slowly:

‘My breathing is deep and regular.’

4. Before you finish, say several times into yourself slowly:

‘My neck and shoulders are heavy.’

and repeat to yourself a phrase like:

‘The Lord is my shepherd; or
‘Be still and know that I am God’ or
one of your favourite promises from God or
simply something like ‘God really loves me’ or
‘I am at peace with God’ or
‘I am perfectly relaxed’ or
‘God has everything in hand.’

You can say these words either silently or aloud.

5. Sit or lie with your eyes closed for a few minutes if you want to and enjoy the relaxation.

6. It is important to finish this exercise properly. Before you open your eyes and get up –
– clench both fists tightly;
– bend your arms at the elbow and tense your arm muscles;
– strech your hands above your head;
– take a deep breath.
OPEN YOUR EYES.
GET UP SLOWLY.

Note – the only time you need not go into this closing routine is when you are doing the exercises last thing at night in bed – but in any case you will almost always be asleep before you finish them. Do not try to stay awake to go through the closing routine!

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