Take time to relax

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Find out why relaxation is important to our health and wellbeing learn different tools and techniques to help you relax including diaphragmatic or relaxation breathing.

Why relaxation is important

When we sense a danger and feel anxious a primitive response is triggered known as 'Flight or fight'. Our bodies then go through different changes to help us prepare to meet the danger, by either running away or fighting.

Flight or fight response

This includes shutting down our immune and digestive systems which means that it is only when we are relaxed that our bodies can make repairs, store energy, take nutrients from food and fully combat infections.

Relaxing isn't just collapsing in front of the TV - it does require some work and practice.

Breathing techniques and exercises are quick and simple tools that can help us relax. Try the techniques below and find out which works for you. Techniques should be practised every day to have a more long-term effect.

If you are pregnant - only do any exercises as long as you feel comfortable.

​Diaphragmatic or relaxation breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing signals to the body that the threat has passed and it is safe to relax. It is slower and deeper than normal breathing, and happens lower in the body (in the belly or abdomen). You should practise this breathing technique three times a day or whenever you feel anxious. It can also be used to slow breathing down when hyperventilating (rapid breathing).

Diaphragmatic or relaxation breathing

Listen to this audio which will talk you through the technique: Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing (2 mins) or watch the MindWell Diaphragmatic breathing animation video.

​STOP quick help technique

Practise this STOP technique whenever you feel yourself getting anxious or stressed. It can help you to quickly let go of anxieties and feel calmer and more relaxed.

STOP quick help technique

​Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PGMR)

When the 'Flight or fight' response is triggered blood is pumped to our muscles to get them powered up and ready to run. This can create deep muscle tension which we may not be aware of.

Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PGMR) is the name of a technique which teaches you how to become more aware of this tension and relax the different muscles in your body. This should help you feel calmer, reduce headaches, stomach aches and help you sleep.

During this technique you will tense particular muscles in your body and then release them to help you notice the difference when your muscles are relaxed. This will help you realise when your muscles are starting to tense during the day so that you can manage your tension before it starts to increase.

Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PGMR)

You can also listen to this audio which will talk you through the PMR technique:

Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PGMR) (14 mins)

Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PGMR) shorter version (8 mins)

​Neck and shoulder relaxation exercise

Experiencing stiffness in your neck and shoulder? This is a great exercise to help you relax those muscles.

Neck and shoulder relaxation exercise

​Keeping a Relaxation diary

You can use this Relaxation diary to track and record your experiences using relaxation and breathing techniques. This will help you understand what times and techniques work for you.

Relaxation diary

Find support

Phoenix Health and Wellbeing - provide a range complementary therapies including sports massage and aromatherapy in Leeds city Centre. Phoenix is a charity supporting people with mental or physical health issues so the cost of treatments go towards supporting their charitable work.

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