self care,  stress,  Summer

Relaxation for beginners

What are you an expert in? Are you an expert in something? I bet you are and you probably don’t even know it. I have never considered myself an expert in anything, and the self-deprecating part of my personality prevents me from even considering myself adequate in most things. So, to even contemplate the notion of being an expert was alien to me. That was until this morning, as I sat listening to music and sipping my tea. At this point I realised that I am an expert in two things and my knowledge and experience in both is only growing day by day.

Malcolm Gladwell, the New York Times Best Selling Author, wrote in his book ‘Outliers,’ that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of hard work to be able to consider yourself an expert. His book explains how this figure is calculated, which basically amounts to hours of practice and tuition within a specific field and this time accumulating over the years. Think of Olympic Athletes, when they begin to dip their toe into the world of sports they might be in their teens. It all begins with a club once a week and grows from there. They don’t overnight achieve that gold medal, it takes hours of learning, growing, patience and practice.

My area of expertise is kind of similar. I’ve been practicing and learning in this area since I was about 14 years old. I didn’t even realise what I was learning at the time or how valuable it would be as I grew up. I’ve had many teachers, all offering slightly different perspectives along the way, but it has all came down to my rigorous daily practice. Now at this point you might be forgiven for thinking this is an origin story of how I started my life-long yoga practice. Well sorry, it’s not. But it also is. Let me explain…

My name is Gillian and I am an expert in Relaxation. I have been learning how to relax since I had my first panic attack at 14, when I was asked to present a talk in front of my whole class. I now pretty much do this for a living, but back then I tried everything I could to get out of going to school that day. My mum had other ideas. She helped me plan the talk, practice it and she taught me to take slow, deep breaths to calm myself. She taught me how to relax, when I really needed it most.

Over the years I’ve gained more knowledge through my many yoga trainings, books I’ve read and people I’ve worked with. I’ve also been fortunate to have plenty of opportunities to put all this learning into practice. Each day I try to maintain that relaxation experience in the hope that it will keep away a migraine or help me sleep better. And when I’m making time to practice by listening to my inner Relaxation expert it really does work. I make better choices which improve my wellbeing and I feel so much better for it. How does this help you? Well I have a few bits and pieces that might just help you to become your own Relaxation expert too.

  • Use your senses to help you make sense. Whichever sense you are most drawn to may indicate a natural way for you to build more relaxation into your life.
    1. If it’s sound then create a playlist of soothing music;
    1. taste – buy a good bar of chocolate or some nice biscuits and treat yourself, better yet, try making your own;
    1. touch – give yourself a hug or book a massage
    1. sight – spend some time in nature looking at the awe of what’s around you;
    1. or perhaps it’s scent – a quick scour of Pinterest and you’ll find some interesting combinations of aromatherapy oils to try.
  • Meditate – get to know yourself by taking time to switch off and slow down, even if it is only for 5-minutes. It all adds up.
  • Relax – yes this is what it’s all about, but making time to actively relax each day is a perfect way to practice and improve. Try this Progressive Muscle Relaxation practice as a way to start.
  • Write about it – get a notebook and write what’s working for you and what’s not. This will give you an idea of how far you’ve come on your relaxation journey and a practical list of things to do when you need to create a little bit more calm in your day.
  • Yoga – well the list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t encourage you to head to a yoga class. Yin yoga is a great way to learn how to notice tension within the body and the mind, and then to release it.

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