A friend of mine was reminiscing with her 78 year old mother. She asked her, ‘What was the happiest day of your life?’ Her mother said, ‘Today.’ My friend said, ‘But I thought your wedding day was the happiest.’ Her mother said, ‘It was then. But I can’t live in the past. Today is my most important day, therefore, today is my happiest day.’ The daughter asked, ‘What about tomorrow?’ Her mother said, ‘If it comes, I’ll make it the happiest day.’
I wonder if the mother had a problem with stress. Stress is as much a part of life as eating, drinking and sleeping. Learning to manage stress is often ignored by many people. Fortunately, stress management is not difficult to incorporate in one’s life. It can be as simple as learning to relax or as complex as using biofeedback to regulate one’s own heart rate. Here are some popular techniques used to manage stress.
If you are normally alert, feel healthy and are in a good humor, you are probably getting a sufficient amount of sleep. No stress management program would be complete without understanding the importance of sleep. The phenomenon of sleep has never been completely understood, but it has been aptly named the ‘great restorer.’ Sleep is essential to the vital functioning of the body, and natural sleep is the most satisfying form of recuperation from fatigue. Revitalization of the body takes place during sleep, as well as the building of new cells and tissue repair; although these last two also occur during waking hours, the time during sleep allows these processes to take place more easily.
There is no clear cut amount of sleep that people need to achieve complete recuperation. The usual recommendation for adults is eight hours, but some individuals need more and more function very well on less.
The repeated loss of sleep over a long period of time can cause a variety of harmful effects, such as poor general health, nervousness, irritability, inability to concentrate, lowered perseverance of effort and serious fatigue. Under normal conditions, a night of sleeplessness followed by a period of prolonged sleep will restore the individual to his normal self. Sleeping is not always restful. Certain conditions influence the quality of sleep. These include: mental anguish, worry, hunger, cold, boredom and excessive fatigue.
Relaxation, Biofeedback, Meditation and Massage
The stress reduction techniques of meditation and biofeedback can be considered as relaxation techniques. Relaxation is essential in relieving the tensions encountered in daily life. It can be achieved through massage, meditation, biofeedback, and other relaxation techniques that allow the muscles of the body to relax, thereby allowing the mind to be quiet.
The theory in meditation is that if the mind is at ease, then the other systems of the body will be more readily stabilized. The integration of relaxation and meditation makes up the theoretical basis of biofeedback. It is believed that the brain has the potential for voluntary control over all the systems that it monitors. This interaction between mind and body has provided the mechanism through which one can learn voluntary control over biological activity.
The stress response is such a powerful physiological reaction that an equally powerful physiological response is necessary to counter it. This counter reaction is called the ‘relaxation response’. But relaxation is a learned skill that takes practice. The simple truth is that many people don’t relax because they don’t know how. Learning the relaxation response can be accomplished through simple conditioning and habit formation.
One method of relaxation is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). Because all muscles, to some degree, are in a constant state of tension, one must learn to recognize this tension in order to learn to relax the muscles. The objective of PMR is to induce deep muscular relaxation by gradually releasing tension from various parts of the body, one part at a time.
There are three different positions that can be used to facilitate any relaxation exercise, including PMR. These are:
Lying down on one’s back,
Sitting in a semi reclined position
Any of the three positions can be equally effective, but beginners may benefit more from lying down. Regardless of the position chosen, comfort is an important aspect of achieving ultimate relaxation. Pillows should be used under the head, knees, arms, pelvis or feet depending on the position used. Any chairs should be comfortable and soft. Some people also find that listening to classical music helps them concentrate and eliminate outside distractions.
To help yourself relax, take your shoes off before getting into one of the three positions. Close your eyes and concentrate on the body’s different muscle groups one at a time. You may want to repeat the following self instruction as you try to relax: I’m falling into a nice, relaxed state; I’m breathing deeply, slowly and smoothly… As I breathe, I’m becoming more and more relaxed… relaxed… relaxed. My toes are becoming numb; I feel a tingling sensation as the muscles in my toes become more relaxed and tension free… The numbness is beginning to creep up from my toes to my feet…
This self instruction takes the person all the way up the body from the toes to the head. This is only one example of self instruction – anything can be used as long as it provides a pattern of gradual relaxation throughout the body. The following instructions are given to enhance this technique.
This technique has been very successful in relieving such stress related illnesses as hypertension, migraine headaches and ulcers. But for those people who do not suffer these ailments, it still may be necessary to use this technique several times a day during severe stress situations.
Eventually relaxation becomes easier and spontaneous. When a person recognizes how a muscle should feel when relaxed, it becomes a matter of habit and allows a person to relax his or her muscles whenever it’s desired. Some find it difficult to learn how a relaxed muscle feels because they have no standard for tension. To alleviate this problem, there’s the Tension-Relaxation technique, a system that incorporates conscious tensing of muscles followed by relaxation to teach the difference between the two.
The Tension Relaxation technique is performed in the same manner as the PMR technique. In the Tension Relaxation technique, individual muscle groups are tensed during separate exercise sessions. The sessions are broken down into the following groups: hands, arms, legs, chest, back shoulders, neck and forehead. After the separate groups are mastered, the technique can be used to relax the entire body in one session. Furthermore, the tension part of the exercise will be removed as the body is conditioned to recognize the relaxed state. It’s important to have the ability to recognize tension versus relaxation.
Practice Session No.1 – Hands Tension
With hands at your sides, clench your fists as tight as possible. Keep them clenched for at least 10 seconds. At first, you may want to tense only one hand at a time.
Release your hands and let your fingers slowly uncurl and go limp at your sides. Repeat this exercise 3 times. After 3 sets, keep your hands and body relaxed and rested for 20 – 30 minutes.
Tension relaxation technique will allow and individual to recognize even small degrees of tension that occur in the muscles. Like PMR, this technique has been successful in treating a variety of illnesses, such as hypertension and migraine headaches. In 2 weeks to 2 months relaxation will become a spontaneous habit that will become stronger every time a person relaxes.
In the last decade, the practice of meditation has moved into the mainstream.With meditation’s growing and more generalized acceptance, there is growing discussion about the possibility of meditation replacing sleep fully. To recognize completely the relationship involving meditation and sleep, we ought to look at each and every to decide no matter whether it is probable for meditation to supplant the body’s need for sleep.Several men and women mistakenly confuse the rest positive aspects of meditation with those obtained from sleep.Even though complementary, they are vastly different. To recognize the synergy among sleeping and meditation we should very first understand the differences.Our bodies call for sleep for rejuvenation and fix.In the course of sleep, we release hormones that assist us grow, form white blood cells, steer clear of anemia, fight ailment, strengthen the immune system, preserve appropriate entire body bodyweight, generate skin cells and steer clear of premature aging.Meditation, from the perspective of a layperson, is basically a period of altered consciousness when the brain slows down to a relaxed state.Making use of meditation, a sense of peacefulness, deep bodily relaxation and psychological clarity can be experienced in just a fraction of the volume of time essential for a nap. Meditation creates a express of mental bliss and assists the head relax, leading to the physical advantages related with decreased strain. Nonetheless, due to the fact a meditative express is a express of “psychological wakefulness,” it does not support execute the actual restore and rejuvenation related tasks that occur only when the thoughts is asleep. Attempting to exchange sleep with meditation would ultimately lead to memory loss, confusion, high blood pressure, fat obtain – even a compromised immune technique that leaves one’s entire body vulnerable to illnesses.Used properly, meditation and sleep will complement each other. If you sleep nicely you can meditate deeper, and conversely if you meditate frequently, you can sleep much greater.Meditation makes it possible for the mind and entire body to knowledge deeper sleep and acquire rest simply because the head prepares the entire body to submerge into a deep sleep with no a period of time of “cooling down.” This facilitates avoid tossing and turning and raises REM sleep, which is essential to maintaining good well being and facilitating the growth and rejuvenation of the actual body.In a fast-paced society exactly where people search for time brief cuts, meditation can not and should not change sleep.On the other hand, if on a regular basis practiced, meditation will enormously boost the top quality of sleep and reduce the amount of it a physique desires.
Insomnia can be distressing. When you can’t sleep it affects everything you do and means that you are not in the best place to deal with life or enjoy it. If you’re having trouble sleeping, then tossing and turning with worry about it can make it even worse. There are things that you can do to help you to sleep. Try these relaxation techniques and tips for a good night’s sleep and start to wake up feeling rested and refreshed in the mornings.
When you can’t sleep it is often because you can’t relax or switch off. Many people suffer from stress symptoms and this eats into their nightly rest as well. In order to sleep you need to find ways to relax before you go to bed so that you can enjoy that warm, comfortable feeling that precedes a good night’s sleep.
Firstly, you probably have some idea of how much sleep you need to feel good. Make sure that you are aiming to get enough but not too much. Too much sleep can make you feel as groggy and grumpy as too little. It also helps to have a set routine as your body clock will adjust better if you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Make sure that your bed is warm and comfortable and your room is quiet and dark. It might be time to invest in a new mattress, an electric blanket or hot water bottle, or a thicker pair of curtains.
Before you go to bed watch what you eat and drink. A large meal can play heavy on the digestive system and stop you getting off to sleep. On the other hand, when your stomach is grumbling with hunger, you may also have trouble sleeping. You may find a light snack an hour or so before bed is helpful.
Avoid stimulants and depressants such as caffeine and alcohol. Keep caffeine for the mornings – the later you drink it, the more problems you will have sleeping. This means avoiding coffee, cola and energy drinks/pills. You may think that alcohol makes you sleep better but you will not get a good quality sleep. Instead, try a relaxing mug of cocoa or a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime to help you unwind and sleep better.
Stimulants don’t just come in the form of drinks – spending too much time on a computer or watching television or even a chat with a friend can all keep your mind buzzing into the night and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Avoid these activities for at least an hour before you go to bed. Try reading a book instead which is almost guaranteed to get your eyelids drooping, or relax yourself by taking a long, hot soak in the bath with some relaxing scented bubbles before you go to bed.
You could also have a go at meditation in the evenings or try drifting off to sleep whilst listening to some relaxing music or a self-hypnosis audio track. Many of these are specifically designed to help you relax or sleep. If you don’t fancy this, you could always try counting sheep or simply focusing on your breath and counting as you breathe in and out deeply. Muscle relaxation techniques can also be very effective – you work your way up or down the body, tensing each part and then releasing to relax the muscles. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time around. Simply have another go.
If you are waking up tired in the mornings, you may be tempted to take a nap during the day. Resist the urge as this will mean that, once again, you don’t sleep effectively at night. Instead try a meditation or some relaxation techniques or physical exercise.
If you are finding it hard to relax generally and this is affecting your sleep, then perhaps you need to find ways to relieve your stress and anxiety. Try to deal with your problems rather than ignoring them and letting them get on top of you. There are many effective ways that you can deal with stress. If you are over-anxious, you will not sleep.
Finally, do not let your worry about your lack of sleep make things even worse. If you’ve used all these tips and just cannot sleep, then just try to relax your body and enjoy the comfortable time in your bed. Eventually your body will have to catch up on sleep of its own accord so relish the warmth and comfort and try not to make yourself more anxious. If you keep putting these relaxation techniques and tips into practice over a period of time, you should start to feel more relaxed and notice an improvement in your sleep patterns.
People struggling to have a proper night’s sleep can definitely opt for the various techniques of meditation for sleep. There are various traditional sleep meditation methods that are very effective in inducing sleep in individuals. But these processes might need some time to be effective. Theta meditation is a new technology that is opted by many people as a way of meditation for sleep and has proved to be very effective. This new technique is being used widely in many countries and has been proved scientifically by doctors and meditation experts to be harmless. Theta meditation techniques regulate the brainwaves in a manner that the mind can relax completely and one can get good sleep at night. This technique helps to take away the stress and tension away from the mind thus relaxing and calming the mind to a great extent. Apart from being a great tool of meditation for sleep, theta meditation is also extremely helpful for students and for people with a creative bent of mind like musicians, composers, painters, writers and so on. Using a headphone for theta meditation is the best thing. Extremely low frequency brainwaves in the range of 4-8Hz are produced in this meditation technique. The brainwaves create a drowsy feeling and one feels like sleeping with this tool of meditation for sleep. It seems that all the sense of body awareness disappears and the mind goes into a state of deep sleep. This happens as all stress is removed and the mind becomes calm. There are also high chances that through this meditation technique one can possibly start to dream.Theta meditation is not only a great tool of meditation for sleep; it also has many other important health benefits. Some of the advantages of practicing theta meditation are as follows:
Sleep – we all need it. It doesn’t take long for things to fall apart once you are deprived of it. Your immune system weakens, your mind is less alert, and your energy level drops dramatically. In fact, studies done on animals have shown that lack of sleep can have dire consequences. Rats have a normal life span of two to three years, but when deprived of sleep will live for only three to four weeks! Now here’s something to try if you’ve been having restless nights that keep you awake – it’s called “Progressive Muscle Relaxation,” or PMR. .
PMR is a drug-free technique that could help you relax muscles and put your body and mind in a better state to get a good night’s sleep. The technique involves two steps: first, you deliberately tense certain muscle groups; and then you relax, letting go of the tension, tuning your mind to how it feels to be in this “tension-less” state.
Feedback from clinical trials involving PMR has been very positive. In one study performed at the University of North Texas, researchers reviewed clinical trials for the psychological treatments of adult and child insomnia. They found that the adult psychological treatment with the best research support was PMR.
In another clinical trial, researchers investigated the effect of PMR training on sleep quality and fatigue in patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. The study sampling consisted of 27 individuals, of which 14 formed a PMR group and 13 formed a control group. The research team found that the PMR group experienced a greater increase in improved sleep quality and a greater decrease in fatigue than the control group.
We need sleep to rest our minds and restore our bodies. Sleep enables us to better fight off illness and to repair damaged cells. Our bodies usually require seven to nine hours of sleep a night to accomplish these tasks most effectively. Unfortunately, you may come to the point in your life where you find yourself sleeping for shorter periods of time and more lightly. Sounds and disturbances wake you up, as do complications with bladder control and other medical conditions. The average time seniors spend in a “deep sleep” decreases by 10% to 15% as they age.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, give PMR a try. Before you go to bed, get as many muscles as you can to relax. Take your time and let your body and your mind unwind and release all the pent-up tension accumulated throughout the day as you do the exercises.