Induces the "relaxation response", similar to hibernation.
• Relieves stress.
• Lowers the blood pressure.
• Relaxes the nerves and muscles.
• Decreases the need for sleep - 5-10 minutes of deep relaxation is roughly equivalent to one hour's sleep, if done properly.
• Strengthens the heart.
The essential part of the deep relaxation is just that: deep relaxation. You have to properly relax all your muscles without sleeping. Using a blanket, lie down on your back with your arms by your side, and make sure that your breathing is calm and relaxed. You should be warm and there should not be any draught in the room. Now go through your whole body, starting at your feet, consciously making sure that each part is completely relaxed - with no muscular tension at all. Go from the feet up the legs, consciously checking each part, into the groin area, into the abdomen (feeling that your internal organs are also relaxed), into the chest and shoulders, from the fingers and hands up the arms, then into the neck and up into the face, relaxing the facial muscles, including the eyes, and finally to the top of the head, feeling your brain is also relaxed.
Check once more that your breathing is calm and relaxed, and imagine you're lying in the most soothing place you can think of: it could be floating on the sea, suspended in space, on top of a mountain - wherever you like. Now stay like that, fully relaxed, for a few more minutes. Do that every morning. It will prepare you for the day ahead, keeping your mind calm and refreshed. If you also do it at night, it will help you get a good night's sleep.
If you do a lot of mental work, deep relaxation is especially important, and you should do it as often as possible throughout the day. Whenever you feel mentally fatigued, even just a couple of minutes can be enough to rejuvenate and revive you.
2 Minute Stress Buster
• Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.
• Become limp and floppy and shake your whole body - legs, arms, torso and head all at once.
• Rotate your shoulders slowly backwards in a full circle, while breathing in slowly. Inhale while the shoulders are moving up and exhale as they go down.
• Pause and then reverse the direction, rotating the shoulders slowly forwards, inhaling as the shoulders go up, exhaling as they go down.
• Very slowly, one vertebrae at a time, lower your head towards your chest. Let your arms hang limply at your sides.
• Bend your knees slightly. Allow your back to bend, lowering your head until it is between your knees. You should feel a slight pull in the hamstring muscles at the back of your legs. This should be a comfortable stretch - bend or straighten your legs until you reach a balance.
• Straighten your right arm towards the floor. Then stretch the left arm, allowing your body to hang limply. There should be a slight pull in the centre of your back. Do not stretch to the point of discomfort.
• You will now raise yourself, reversing your entire downward journey. Gently and ever so slowly, tuck in your bottom and raise yourself one vertebrae at a time.
• Standing upright, rotate your shoulders backwards as before, then forwards, paying attention to your breathing - in on the up rotation and out on the down rotation.
• Compare your breathing to how it was when you started and repeat the routine twice more if needed.