It is argued that relaxation is one of the most effective self-help strategies for a healthy body and healthy mind. It can help to prevent the development of stress and anxiety and depression, and can help you sleep.
Relaxation exercises and techniques are used to combat the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, to relax the body and clear the mind - that sounds ACE. I thought that I would give it a go.
Of course any exercises or guided relaxation won't magically make the cause of your anxiety disappear; but what they can and will do is provide you with the necessary skills so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever is/was that was/is once the source of your anxiety; and it will do this by releasing you of any fear or tension that you may feel, and by clearing your thoughts. Right, OK. I'm ready to give that a go.
Most relaxation techniques combine breathing more deeply, and combine this with relaxing the muscles. As with most things, this is learnt behavior. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned, and it will come with practice and become easier. Both Yoga and Tai Chi (see previous TAI CHI BLOG) have been found to be good forms of exercise that help to improve posture and breathing and relaxation.
Awareness of ourselves and the world around us – is now often called, or is referred to as 'mindfulness' – and it is felt participating in 'mindfulness' and practicing 'mindfulness' that this can improve our mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is advocated by the Mental Health Foundation. Mindfulness therefore is a "mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences."
This is sometimes referred to as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). "Mindfulness training helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we're better able to manage them." Mindfulness is felt to be a valuable tool in restoring people's quality of life: "Mindfulness therefore is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety."
Research has found; and there is growing evidence that 'Mindfulness' can help with:
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Symptom
All of these are symptoms that can be experienced with MS.
It is important to remember that relaxation or meditation or mindfulness won't make the cause of the anxiety disappear, it won't alleviate the source of your anxiety; what it will do is it will equip you so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever it was that was causing your stress. Surely that has got to be a good thing?
While Mindfulness can be practiced quite well without Buddhism, Buddhism cannot be practiced without Mindfulness. In its Buddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes: 'knowing the mind'; 'training the mind'; and 'freeing the mind'.
Relaxation and Meditation and Mindfulness are each concerned with developing techniques that enable us to live in the 'here' and 'now'. They are about living in the present, about learning to live in the present. About enjoying the moment. About enjoying this moment. I have slowing been trying to re-educate myself, to ensure that I live in the present. This isn't easy. This is not an easy thing to learn. But, I am learning.
I love Audrey Hepburn, I adore Audrey Hepburn, everything about Audrey. Her grace and her beauty, obviously; but she radiated other qualities of kindness and goodness. She was kind and thoughtful in her actions, she took time and was appreciative of the good things that she had in her life. She knew hardship and sorrow and heart-break, but she appeared to deal with everything effortlessly with style and grace. She appeared to know the importance of living in the moment and taking pleasure from the simple things in life. This is something that I have always admired tremendously. Therefore an approach that I have taken to life is: 'What would Audrey do?' That is my mantra in trying to be a better person. What would Audrey do?