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Many people think that relaxation is sitting in front of the television or going on holiday but in actual fact, it can be doing your favourite sport.

You can relax when you are swimming, cycling, walking, yoga, aerobics, golf, etc etc.

The best way to look after your body is to find somthing that you like that helps you relax. To find the correct balance and know when to stop and give your body a rest.

Normal stress is a challenge that strengthens the body’s own defences. However, abnormal stress and too much of it can overtax us physically as well as mentally.

People with chronic pain often highlight the feeling of lack of control over their pain as
one of the most stressful aspects of their condition. The amount of stress you feel maybe influenced by three things:
1. The stressful situation
2. How you see the problem and your ability to cope with it
3. The support available from others
Stress has an impact on our activities, our thoughts and our feelings but, by
considering the three points above, you can learn to manage your stress by:
1. Dealing with the cause of your stress
2. Changing the way you look at the problem
3. Asking for help from family and friends
Stress and pressure are a normal part of life but, when you have chronic pain, they can
make it harder to deal with the problems caused by that chronic pain, writes WSH/NHS

Relaxation is a feeling of being calm. Learning to relax involves recognising tension in the body and mind and letting go of that tension.

We know people with chronic pain can experience a lot of muscle spasm or tension as
a response to their pain. Relaxation can be very helpful in relieving muscle tension and reducing stress. It is a very important coping strategy. If you successfully learn to relax your pain maybe reduced.

Relaxation skills can take a long time to learn and should be practiced every day and
more frequently if you are experiencing a flare up. WSH/NHS has a list of ways to relaxation using simple exercises, and different types of breathing.

Web MD write that you should try to not get stressed trying to pick the “right” relaxation technique for natural pain relief. Choose whatever relaxes you, like music, prayer, gardening, going for a walk, or talking with a friend on the phone. Here are some other techniques you might try:

  • Foursquare breathing. Breathe deeply so that your abdomen expands and contracts like a balloon with each breath. Inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale to a count of four, then hold to a count of four. Repeat for ten cycles.
  • Guided imagery. Breathe slowly and deeply. For example, imagine a tranquil scene in which you feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed. Include colors, sounds, smells, and your feelings. Do for 5 to 10 minutes each day.
  • Self-talk. Change how you think about your pain and yourself. For example, change “Pain prevents me from keeping house the way I used to so I’m a failure” to “No one will die if the house isn’t perfect. I can get a lot done by breaking down tasks into baby steps.”
  • Hypnosis. Hypnotherapists can induce hypnosis and implant suggestions, such as “You’re going to sleep soundly tonight.” Record the session so that you can repeat it at home.
  • Mindfulness meditation. Sit or lie quietly and notice your breathing without controlling it. If pain or thoughts interfere, simply notice them without trying to push them away. Think of them as a cloud passing over; then return to observing your breath. Do this for about 20 minutes.

The main thing is finding something for yourself that you know helps you to relax. For me personally I like to go for a rest every afternoon for 30-60 minutes as I find that completely relaxing and it helps with my pain.

If I am having a really bad day then I will have ten minutes on my acupressure mat first then lie on the bed and plug in my heat pad. More often than not I will nod off for 30 minutes but if I can’t then I simply read my book on my Kindle. I always close the blinds to keep the room darker and like under the throw on the bed. It is something I have done for many many years now and I always feel better after having this rest.

You might prefer to

  1. Go for a walk..
  2. Sit in your garden.
  3. Listen to the birdsong outside.
  4. Go and see your grandchildren.
  5. Do a bit of artwork.
  6. Write. Listen to music.
  7. Enjoy a massage.
  8. Write a journal.
  9. Meditate.
  10. Do Yoga.
  11. Swim.
  12. Read.
  13. Watch a film.
  14. Visit a friend.
  15. Take a bath.
  16. Sing. – The list is endless.

The aim of relaxation therapy is to calm the mind, to allow thoughts to flow in a smooth, level rhythm, and bring on the relaxation response. This mental quiet allows for rest and revival that does not always occur, even during sleep. You could always try a few and see which one works best for you.

Just by using relaxation techniques, it is possible to improve health, strengthen the immune system, build up a tolerance to stress, cope with change, and improve youor quality of life.

Source: WS/NHS, Web MD

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