Fatigue and stress are central to the issues of fibromyalgia.
We’ve talked about getting a restorative rest. Sometimes, getting restorative rest has a lot to do with learning to relax.
It’s a tough one for me. Just today, I was at the doctor checking out some foot pain. He kept telling me to relax my foot and let him move it. 🙂 I’ve heard the same thing from my nail tech and my therapists.
So, how do we learn to relax?
In an article, The Mind-Body Wellness Connection, Chad Eiler shares that stress and other mind-body conditions can affect our immune system and lead to “cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and even cancer. So you can see that learning to relax can be greatly beneficial.
While relaxation techniques, may not cure these diseases, they will certainly help decrease muscle tension, prevent muscle spasms and relieve stress-related pain. Most techniques can be done anywhere …. in your bed, at the office, in the car at a stop light.
Other benefits of relaxation include:
- Refreshes you mentally, emotionally, and physically
- Helps shift your focus away from your symptoms
- Increases your energy level
- Improves concentration
- Gives you a sense of control over symptoms
- Increases your confidence and ability to handle problems
- Increases blood flow to muscles, and reduces muscle tension
- Decreases blood pressure, breathing and heart rates
My Doctor’s Advice
My advisors at Mayo Pain Clinic instructed me to schedule a 20 minute time for relaxation twice a day. You could do this during your lunch break, mid-afternoon, while you wait in line at the school for your children (this was always a stressful time for me cause I was wanting the boys to get to the car .. they never did .. think if I had used the time for relaxation).
So what are some techniques to try?
- Relaxed breathing. Breathe in slowly, deeply and rhythmically. If you have anxiety attacks, try this to calm your down. – Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose to a count of 6. – Hold the air in your lungs to a count of 1. – Breathe out slowly through your mouth to a count of 6. – Repeat 6 to 10 times.
- Passive Muscle Relaxation. Relax body parts one at a time. Start with your feet or your head. Relax for 30 seconds. Continue with the next body part, working slowly up or down your body.
- Imagery/Visualization. Imagine yourself in a pleasant, peaceful place. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and picture yourself there. Use every sense to imagine how you feel. (e.g., see the beach, smell the salt water, hear the waves, feel the sun’s warmth.) I remember doing this in Lamaze class.
- Prayer and Meditation. Chad Eiler shared about this study to see how meditation can help. “To help the body and mind combat these stresses, researchers conducted studies on the practice of mindfulness-paying attention to thoughts, emotions and physical sensations without judging or reacting to them. One study tested the mindfulness strategies in older adult suffering from insomnia. One group of elders was given a six-week course on sleep and stress reduction. The other group meditated daily for 15 minutes before bed. After six weeks, the meditating group showed significant improvement in sleep quality and had less fatigue and depression.” I like to pray and meditate on scriptures when I am awakened in the night or when I am having a procedure such as an injection.
- Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. Use specific breathing, movement, and posture exercise to enhance physical and mental control and well-being. You can take classes at the YMCA or other places. I even had some yoga training on our Wii game system. But going to a class would give you some accountability AND some socializing which is also a good thing.
- Soothing music and nature sounds. I’ve mentioned this before but music is very instrumental for relaxing. My husband and I have been using nature sounds and music for years. There are also guided relaxation tapes available that will lead you into a relaxed state of mind. Youtube has hundreds of guided relaxation videos from 5 minutes to 3 hours long. Use them for your relaxing time or even your night time routine.
- Massage. Who doesn’t get totally relaxed with a massage? Try some self-massage or splurge and pay for one at a spa. The ultimate form of relaxation!
- Essential Oils. Pick up a diffuser and fill your home with wonderful scents. I love lavender.
- Candles. Another way to fill your life with relaxing scents is candles. There are many wonderful scents out there. I actually love the natural scent of 100% beeswax. It burns longer and cleaner than other wax forms. It is also said the clear the air of allergens.
- Hobbies. While this is not total relaxation, finding hobbies and things you enjoy does give you relaxation and takes your mind off of the stress and pain. Crocheting gives me a lot of enjoyment. I spend an hour or two every day working on different crochet projects.
Find the best way to relax and start relaxing.
Twice a day.
Put it on your daily schedule.
I’m sure you can find the time to do it and you’ll be glad you did.
Feeling Your Pain … But Chilling out!
Sometimes, getting restorative rest has a lot to do with learning to relax @ggmandy http://wp.me/p7NFKu-1jx