Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lock and Key (08/21/14)
TITLE: Some Keys to Relaxation
By Holly Westefeld
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in Heaven with the key of salvation in Jesus Christ. While inner
peace with God is an immeasurable blessing, physical and
emotional relaxation are often more elusive. Here are some keys
to help you unlock physical and mental stress.
According to the old saying, "music soothes the savage beast."
It is actually the rhythm of the music, however, that is the key
factor in relaxation. A driving beat is great for staying alert
behind the wheel, but only music with a rhythm equal to or less
than your resting heart rate will actually unlock the body's
internal relaxation response.
Breathing is another key. It is not just singers who need to
breathe from the diaphragm. God designed the diaphragm to be the
primary muscle for respiration. While there are secondary
muscles to assist it in the chest and neck, breathing shallowly
stresses them and causes them to tighten up, often resulting in
headaches and other pain in the upper body. Place one hand just
below your rib cage, and the other on your chest. When you
inhale, your abdomen should expand, then deflate when you exhale.
There should be virtually no movement of your chest. Once you
have the knack of breathing from your diaphragm, focus on slowing
your respiration rate to about four breaths per minute, 7-8
seconds per inhalation and exhalation. I have personally found
that combining this with relaxing music can lower blood pressure
by 5-10 points.
An excellent key to unlock both stressed mind and muscles is
massage. Massage should never exceed your comfort level, and
never hesitate to let your massage therapist know if the pressure
is too much. Excessive pressure will just make you more tense.
If professional massage therapy does not fit your schedule and/or
budget, you can unlock a lot of muscle tension with self massage
techniques. Never put pressure on the spine or other bones not
padded with muscle. You can use anything cylindrical to roll on
the quads, the muscles along the front and side of your thigh.
Sit with your legs relaxed, and roll from your hip out to your
knee and back. For the back, especially between the shoulder
blades, place a pair of tennis balls between you and the wall,
leaning in to them, avoiding the spine. If you have trouble
placing them, put them in the toe of long socks or hose so you
can drop them behind your shoulders without them falling. You
can also use tennis or lacrosse balls against a wall to massage
the muscular areas of the hips.
Don't forget that gentle stretching is a key to keeping muscles
from locking up. Never over stretch, or you risk tearing muscles
or connective tissue. To stretch your calf, place your toes on a
step, and press your heel toward the ground. For quads, making
sure to hang on to something for balance, stand on one foot,
grasp your ankle, and pull your heel toward your tailbone. For
the hamstrings in the back of your thigh, either bend to touch
your toes, or lie down and lift each leg in turn. For chest and
upper arms, hold on to a door frame and lean forward. Place your
hands at different heights for different muscles. For the
shoulders' rotator cuff muscles, dangle a hand towel behind your
head with one hand, grasp the other end with your other hand, and
gently pull up and down, switching hands to work both shoulders.
To relax the low back, lie down and bring your knees toward your
chest, or just put a pillow under your knees. Finally, for
sciatica, lie down, bend the knee on the affected side, then hug
it diagonally toward the opposite shoulder.
A more passive key to unlocking muscular tension is heat. While
ice is essential for inflammation, heat is best for everyday
muscle tension. Apply heat for no more than 15 minutes at a
time, and always test the temperature carefully. You can get
packs filled with rice at most drugstores. They can be heated in
the microwave, or chilled for inflammation. A hot water bottle
is also an excellent option. Heating pads should have a timer,
in case you fall asleep. And we all know that there's nothing
like a hot bath to wash away the fatigue and stress of the day.
Lastly, your homework is to research how organic essential oils
can help unlock physical and mental relaxation.
The author is an allied health professional.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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