Learning to relax is something very important. Almost as important as drinking enough water. Many of us don’t take time to relax enough, and when we set out to relax, we often just sit in a sofa in front of the TV or in a chair in front of the computer. I know that I do. This doesn’t allow the body to fully relax, so it’s good to sometimes just take a break and really relax for real. This problem also ties into being able to fall asleep. Because we don’t allow our minds and bodies to be relaxed before we sleep, we often make it harder for ourselves when the time comes to go to bed.
How to fall asleep is quite an interesting topic to discuss. For some people it’s quite difficult to manage to fall asleep, for some people it’s quite easy and for some people who are suffering from different forms of sleeping disorders, it’s near impossible.
At times in my life I have had huge problems with falling asleep. My brain just keeps churning things over, making it impossible to shut out the chatter from inside my own head. It was during the time that I had the most problems with these things that I read quite a lot about relaxation techniques, ways of making yourself falling asleep etc, and eventually I developed two techniques that work really well for me. One to relax my body completely, or at least as completely as it’s possible to relax oneself, and the other to blank out my mind and relax my mind. And from that relaxed state of mind, I found that it was much easier to fall asleep.
My body relaxation technique might look like some other techniques that you’ve seen somewhere else and since as far as I know it hasn’t been patented, you can feel free to claim it as your own as well. If you’ve seen or used a technique similar to this, write a comment and tell me your experience with it, that would be really cool.
For the first technique, you can either sit in a comfortable chair or lay down on a bench, bed, or on the floor. Keep your arms by the side of your body, be comfortable, and make sure you’re not going to get too cold or too warm for the next half an hour or so.
Close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Take deep long breaths and just get used to breathing this way for about ten seconds or so. Once you have gotten used to the rhythm, breathe in, and as you breathe out, give a huge sigh and just relax your muscles as much as possible, just let everything go. Try to sink into the floor or mattress as much as possible. Become a puddle of goo.
This is where it becomes a bit more difficult and the real relaxation will start. The idea of the relaxation technique is to relax body-part by body-part one by one, starting from the head. I like to start from the face, but you might as well do it from your feet and go upwards. I like to start from the top, because you have loads of muscles in your face, and to me, the head, neck and shoulders are the most important to relax, to be able to continue relaxing the rest of the body.
Start by allowing your face muscles relax. Let them sink back, your eyebrows relax and your cheeks get loose. Open your lips ever so slightly and relax your tongue. It might feel like it’s going to block your throat, but you are breathing through your nose, so don’t worry. Continue focusing on relaxing one muscle group at the time in your face, then your neck, shoulders and arms, etc. Really focus on relaxing and letting go of any tension you have.
Keep it to one muscle per breath or slower if you can. The more times that you use this technique, the more muscles you will find to relax. If you want, have a look at a drawing of the human physiology and imagine going through all those muscles when you’re relaxing. Just keep going through the whole of your body until you’ve reached your legs and feet. Once you have, just go through your body one more time and make sure that you’re completely relaxed.
The first time you try this technique, you might not get further than a couple of muscles in your face before you lose focus. Don’t worry about it, but just keep trying. You’ll get it eventually.
For the mind-relaxation technique, I needed to add a couple of triggers to make it work properly for myself. My mind is very active, and thus will always want to think of two or three other things at the same time, even if I try to tone it down. This can be quite disturbing when trying to focus on this technique, because the purpose of it is to empty out your mind, slow yourself down into a relaxed state of mind and ultimately either just relax or get a chance to peacefully fall asleep.
Visualize a huge clock in front of you. The clock only has one arm, the seconds arm. The other arms of the clock are irrelevant, so you leave them out or visualize them as you like. Just firmly burn the image of the clock into your mind and let the seconds tick away. Make the image clearer, the white of the clock face whiter, bigger and brighter. Shut everything else out but the face of the clock.
Once you have a firm image of the clock face and the seconds arm in your mind, match the speed of the arm’s ticking to your own heartbeat and just watch it tick on as you feel your heart beating. Keep letting it tick, and make the image stick in your mind.
As you get used to the rhythm, you start to will the arm to tick slower, as you observe it, obstruct it in your mind, and at the same time you keep matching it to the pace of your heartbeat. Keep willing it to move slower and slower, feeling your heart beat slower and slower as you will the clock to tick slower. Keep going and keep focusing on the clock, the ticking of the arm and your own heartbeat.
At first you will find that a lot of distractions will try to obstruct you from fully visualizing the clock, from matching the ticking of the arm to the beating of your heart and from willing it to slow down. As the distractions keep coming in, acknowledge them and let them go. It’s much more difficult to getting rid of an image or thought if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there, but as soon as you have, focus even harder on the clock. Make it brighter, bigger and more tangible in your mind. Keep it going and you’ll soon be able to summon that clock at any given time.
I also have another technique, to boost my energy, that I had almost forgotten about. I just remembered it when I was discussing this article with a friend of mine, so I thought it could be cool to add it in here as well. As I said, I had almost forgotten about it because I haven’t been using it for years. I don’t know why or when I really stopped using it, but it’s well worth a mention.
Basically what I do is that when I’m in a relaxed state, I focus my energy on the inside of my eyelids or just above my eyes, and breathe through my nose. I inhale carefully, but exhale with a bit of force. Not so much as if I was blowing my nose, but almost as if I was blowing up a very light balloon. I keep the focus and try to visualize energy and adrenaline pumping through my body. With every breath I keep this going and visualize that I have a torrent of energy that goes from the top of my head, down my back and up through my chest. I keep feeding this torrent with more and more energy, starting to move my body ever so slightly, rolling my shoulders, and let the energy flow through me.
Then I open my eyes and go about my business, feeling much more energized than before.
You can also combine all three of these techniques, once you have gotten used to them. First, relax your body, then your mind and as you decide to come to, or if you’ve set an alarm for a certain period of time, use the energy-boost technique just to get a little extra kick.
If you decide to try any of these techniques out, please tell me how your experience with them was, comment if there is anything that you’re wondering about and share it if it has been beneficial to you.