Relaxation is a skill like any other. Just as with riding a bike or baking a cake, you will have a natural tendency to find it easy or difficult, but everyone can learn it, and everyone can become really good at it: with practice.
There are two types of relaxation:
Physical relaxation involves a release of tension throughout the muscles of the body
Mental relaxation involves a release of worry, stress and pressure from the mind.
It is possible to have one without the other, but we want to develop both! We need to be able to relax regularly, well and at will.
Primary and Secondary Activities
Whenever you are doing something, it is likely that you are performing other activities at the same time. One activity will be primary, the others secondary.
If you learn to distinguish between them, you can become more focused, more relaxed and more productive.
You are writing a letter, perched on the edge of the chair, with your shoulders hunched, eating a biscuit and supervising your childâs homework.
In this case you need to decide which is the primary activity (the letter, the biscuit, or the supervision) and give it priority. The others will get priority as the number of tasks reduce. The physical actions of perching and hunching are secondary activities which are pointless and causing extra strain. Relax!
You are walking the dog, planning tomorrowâs work schedule, getting frustrated by other dogs pestering yours, worrying about the colleague whoâs got it in for you and feeling tense and rushed.
Here, the primary activity is walking. The other elements are causing that activity to be disturbed. Accept the inevitability of other dogs, use âWorry Controlâ tactics (see âWorryâ) to put aside the job concerns and use the walk as an opportunity for space for yourself, relaxation and the health giving benefits of the exercise.