Monday, February 14, 2011

A Slice of Writer's Life: Stress Less

Stress Less
Joy Held
Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity
Who Dares Wins Publishing

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
Chinese proverb

Writer Wellness workshop participants always have a wide range of suggestions for what it means to relax. Reading, video games, bubble baths, sleeping, and listening to music are popular ideas for down time to many people. One definition of relaxation is “to obtain an equilibrium state.” Relaxation in a pragmatic sense is the ability to align oneself with the chaos of life and to appreciate a new level of acceptance as the result. A conscious process of mindful relaxation should create a sense of security that spills over into all the areas of life.

Essentially, relaxation is gently guiding the mind from several thoughts to just a few, directed thoughts. Relaxation techniques are usually very simple and involve physical stillness, mental focus, and attention to breathing. Meditation is main stream now as the health industry is expressing support of a practice that thousands of individuals throughout history have known relieves physical and mental stress.

“The Relaxation Response” is a phrase and a book based on the work of Harvard physician, Herbert Benson, M.D. The 1975 publication explained how Benson studied the brains and nervous systems of people during a state of meditation and determined that all humans are capable of calling up the relaxation response at will. With a few simple steps, the ability to rest the mind, body, and breath is within easy reach of everyone. Benson’s process lists these requirements:

“From those age-old techniques we have extracted four basic components necessary to bring forth that response,
(1) A quiet environment
(2) A mental device
(3) A passive attitude
(4) A comfortable position”
(The Relaxation Response, pp. 159-160)

1. “A quiet environment”: Find a secure space. If necessary, notify others in the house that you want some privacy and quiet for ten minutes.
2. “A mental device”: As you inhale, repeat to yourself, “Breath in.” As you exhale, repeat to yourself, “Breath out.”
3. “A passive attitude”: When your mental repetition is interrupted by other thoughts, do not follow the new thought but return to repeating the words, “Breath in, breath out.”
4. “A comfortable position”: Sit comfortably in a chair with your spine gently supported in an upright position. Don’t cross your legs. Close your eyes all or half way, whichever is the most comfortable. Identify your breath and pay close attention to its flow into and out of your body. Notice its quality (steady, shallow, or soft). Identify the parts of your body involved in the action of breathing (stomach, chest, ribs, and nostrils).

Start with five minutes a day and slowly build up to 20 minutes once a day.

Relaxation Tips

1. If possible, choose a time when you are alone in the house for better quiet.
2. Loosen tight clothing.
3. If your breath becomes choppy or difficult, stop, open your eyes then start again.
4. Keep a positive attitude.
5. Accept that it will take time to appreciate this simple practice.

Be well, write well.
copyright 2010



  1. Interesting! With so many stressors at home, in the workplace, and the writing, I need all the help I can get. :P

    Thanks for sharing this technique. Now to go scrounge up 5 uninterrupted minutes! lol.

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