Mindfulness exercises, and the other skills on this site, help us to develop our inner calm, emotional control, perseverance, and a strong sense of self.
There is more information on this topic below.
Finding your inner calm
Mindfulness elicits a “relaxation response,” which is the physiological opposite of stress and anxiety. The relaxation response heals the damage of stress. One of the simplest exercises is to follow your breathing, right down to the bottom of your inhalation. When you focus on your breath through mindfulness, you can develop the ability to find your centre and get to know this calm centred place well. If you learn where your centre is and how it feels, you can go to this place of inner calm.
Mindfulness isn’t easy, as in our daily life the mind is never still. It takes practice and training to work with the mind, to prepare it for mindfulness. Trying to begin mindfulness can be like asking someone to climb a rock face with no equipment, no training and no support. That’s not going to work out very well. That’s why relaxation techniques can be a first training phase, to build stamina. And to work with the issue that sometimes your mindfulness practice can be great, and other days, the mind just won’t stay still, so you can just go back to your relaxation techniques on those days – Rachel 🙂
Relaxation techniques consist of a collection of techniques designed to reduce tension, stress, worry, and/or anxiety. Relaxation techniques vary in their focus (e.g. physical sensations or changes in cognition/thoughts) and can be selected based on any presenting difficulties, and also each of our own preferences. Some of us may respond to physical procedures (e.g., muscle relaxation and/or deep breathing), while others of us my respond more favourably to guided imagery.
This is the reason why they are seven audio recordings on the Learn Mindfulness page for you to explore, to find out your preferences. There are two progressive muscle relaxation activities, two deep breathing activities and three guided imagery activities for you to try out. Also look at the range of activities on the coping skills page, practise those that interest you, and choose the ones that best suit you. Practise these regularly to build your skills repertoire.
Relaxation techniques are important for several reasons. First, they focus on skills that alleviate stress, anxiety, worry and tension that are often debilitating and interfere with our functioning. Second, stress, anxiety, worry and tension are often very uncomfortable for each of us when we are experiencing these.
Relaxation techniques are also a method of increasing our control in uncertain and stressful times, as in the current home confinement period. The information in section 2 on the understanding stress page gives you more information about the specific increased dimensions of stress we are all currently facing together, and the importance of establishing control in the face of this for our well-being. For example, through developing a regular daily routine. The resources on this site are designed to be part of this, to support you.