Step One Close your eyes. Pinpoint in your mind what is annoying or stressing you.
Step Two Say to yourself. Alert mind, calm body. I’m not going to let this get to me.’
Step Three Smile to yourself. You can practise smiling to yourself without showing a smile on your face. In this way your smile will not be obvious to others around you.
Step Four Breathe in to the count of three while imagining
that the air comes in through holes in your feet. Feel the sensation of warmth and heaviness flowing throughout your body, starting at your feet and ending at your head.
Step Five Breathe out to the count of three. Visualize
your breath passing through your body from your head and out through the holes in your feet. Feel the warmth and heaviness flow through your body. Let your muscles relax, let the jaw, tongue and shoulders go limp.
Now open your eyes and resume your normal activity.
Learning to relax
Relaxation should not be regarded as something done only outside work. Taking your regular coffee and lunch breaks is important; these are times for you to recharge your batteries. Try to get away from your office or work surroundings. Go for a short walk or read a favourite blog. If you feel stressed during the day, sit back for a few minutes and practise a quick relaxation technique. Try the quieting reflex (QR). It takes only a few seconds and with practice achieves a body state opposite to activation of the alarm reaction.
With practice over several months, QR becomes automatic. It provides a pause for you to decide whether or not to stay stressed, tense and annoyed or to shift into a less irritated and more relaxed state.
This may seem an obvious question: How, people ask, can an everyday automatic activity like breathing be carried out incorrectly? This is more of a problem than you may imagine. Incorrect breathing can cause much discomfort, ill health and a feeling of distress. A part of our stress response is to change breathing patterns. During physical exertion, breathing rate and depth increase, because we need to take in more oxygen to eliminate the vast amount of carbon dioxide produced by muscle activity. The chest moves outwards and upwards to allow more air into the lungs. When we breathe at rest, it is movements of the diaphragm that exchange the air in our lungs. As the diaphragm moves up and down, the abdomen moves in and out but the chest remains almost stationary (Figure 19).