R - RELAXATION, BREATHING, VISUALIZATION

 

 This step represents one of the cornerstones of the RECLAIM Program.

Quite simply put, a tense body doesn’t heal as effectively as a relaxed one. When your body is tense, your mind is tense. As a result, you will tend to have more negative thoughts and worries. This leads to the choices you make in how you manage recovery. Tension will drain your energy reserves and can leave you feeling unmotivated.

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to heal efficiently from this place.

If you don’t want tension, negativity, low energy, and lack of motivation to interfere with your healing journey, then I recommend that you embrace the first step of the RECLAIM Program.

Learn the skill of relaxation and get your feet on solid ground as you build your road to recovery. You can start by checking out the FAQs below and the CDs available for purchase on this site.

WHY IS RELAXATION IMPORTANT FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT?

Because pain creates tension. When you’re in pain, you naturally brace your body, hold your breath, and tense up. However, tension in turn creates pain. If you hold any muscle tight long enough, it’s going to get sore. So now you’re in a loop in which pain creates tension which creates pain which creates tension … you get the idea.

Although this is not good news, there is good news in it. This endless, inevitable loop between pain and tension gives you something to work with. If you can learn to relax your body and have pain at the same time, you create a new, more functional loop. Now pain creates tension, you let go of the tension, so your pain reduces, which allows you to let go of more tension, so your pain reduces … you get the idea.

WHAT ARE DIFFERENT WAYS I CAN LEARN TO RELAX?

To start with, it’s important to be aware of the difference between doing something relaxing and focussing on relaxing your body.

Doing something relaxing will mean different things to different people. Examples are gardening, reading, watching television, knitting, puttering in the shop, fixing cars, baking, visiting with friends, taking your dog for a walk, petting your cat, …

What do you do to relax?

Focussing on relaxing your body is about spending dedicated time on learning and practicing relaxation techniques. You might do this on your own if you’ve learnt relaxation techniques in your past, for instance through yoga. You could use CDs that provide relaxing sounds (waves, whales, rainfall) or music that you find relaxing while you work on releasing body tension. Or there are CDs out there that actually teach you to learn to relax.

The Learn to Relax – Progressive Muscle Relaxation CD on this website is an example of that. This teaches the foundation skill for learning to relax. It retrains your ability to connect with your natural, relaxed state through the mind-body connection. You will get a lifetime of benefit from building your ability to relax from this foundation.

Deep, abdominal breathing goes with all relaxation. You can check out this article to get some tips on how to breathe properly.

Moving on, guided imagery or visualization is also very powerful. You can learn how to use visualization and then create your own from your imagination. The power of visualization comes from the concept that your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what you imagine and what is real. If you put something into your mind, your subconscious mind will believe it. Top athletes use this regularly to enhance their performance. Visualization works.

The Learn to Relax 2 – Deep Muscle Relaxation CD on this website is an example of this as is the Experience Less Pain – Through Visualization CD which uses visualization to help you learn to work with your pain.

Meditation is another relaxation method. There are many ways to meditate. Many people think you have to sit quietly with an empty mind. That’s not necessary. A good way to learn to meditate is by working with someone who knows how to, or through reading about it and practicing different styles until you find one that works for you.

One that I use when my mind is active is to imagine the space between my thoughts. If my mind flips back to the busyness, I gently go back to the space between my thoughts.

What are you going to do to learn to relax today?