Some days are so hectic and stressful, emergency measures are called for. These three relaxation methods from Pamela Allardice need no special equipment – just five minutes and a floor.
1 Unclench every muscle
This exercise is a powerful stress-buster; it also boosts your cognitive processing abilities, so you think more clearly.
- Lie on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Notice how your belly rises and falls. Visualise tension leaving your belly with each out-breath.
- Shift your attention to your feet: imagine they are so heavy you can’t move them. Take 10 breaths. Move your focus up your body, visualising your legs, back, chest, arms and head all becoming relaxed. Take 10 breaths as you arrive at each body part and visualise the tension flowing away with each out-breath.
- This exercise can alter your sense of time - you may feel as though half an hour has passed, while it’s only been five minutes. Stand up when you feel ready.
2 Imagine for a moment …
Just as your imagination can rev you into a panicky response when you think of a problem, it can also make you calm when you think of something peaceful. The more you practise this guided meditation, the quicker you will feel relaxed.
Sit on the floor and close your eyes. Visualise your ‘third eye’ – according to yogic tradition, this is the spot in the centre of your forehead that governs imagination. Imagine a beautiful scene - perhaps a waterfall in a lush rainforest. Observe the scene carefully in your mind’s eye and notice the details: the cool air, the splashing water, the soft damp moss. Now, slowly and carefully put yourself in the picture. Walk towards the waterfall and step into the sparkling water. See yourself standing under the waterfall with the water rushing over you, washing away your negativity and tiredness. Be aware of how refreshed you feel. When you are ready, open your eyes and stand up.
3 Curl up like a kitten
This yoga-inspired pose is simple yet deeply comforting. It helps you to collect your scattered energies, leaving you better able to concentrate, as well as more relaxed. Kneel on the floor and shut your eyes. Raise your arms straight upwards and inhale for a count of 5. On a count of 10, exhale and lower your torso till your forehead touches the floor. Stretch your arms out in front, palms downwards. Inhale for a count of 5, then exhale for a count for 10, sweeping your arms down past your sides and turning the palms up. Inhale and clench your hands into fists for a count of 5, then exhale and relax them for a count of 10. Repeat the sequence 10 times. TIP: Your body temperature may drop when you do these exercises, so keep a light wrap handy in your desk drawer.