Relaxation exercises

Here are references relating to different types of therapeutic interventions we can offer and different types of mental health issues, developmental disorders and other presenting problems.
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Relaxation exercises

Post by miriam » Sat Apr 07, 2007 10:47 pm

1: Imagine you are filled up with a colour you don't like (represents tension) now imagine that there's taps in your feet and the horrible colour is running out, to be replaced with a good colour coming in through your head. If you let the colour run out over about 2 mins that seems to work.

2: Imagine breathing in relaxation with one colour and breathing out all the stress with another colour. You can also try breathing in relaxation through one nostril and out stress through the other, or breathing in cool relaxing air and out hot stressy air.

Deep breathing

Most people breathe very shallowly, using only the top part of their lungs. Deep breathing allows people to use their entire lungs, providing more oxygen to the body. It is probably the most effective and beneficial method of relaxation around.

Ask the child to lie down on their back.

Ask them to slowly relax their body, starting with feet and moving through every part of the body until you have reached -- and relaxed – the face and scalp. “Relaxed” can be described as the fuzzy or warm feeling you get before sleep.

Ask the child to slowly breathe in; first filling the bottom of the belly, then the tummy, and then the chest and tops of the lungs - almost up to the shoulders. Ask the child to hold the air for a second or two, and then to breathe out slowly (empty the very bottom of the belly first, then the tummy, then finally the top).

Continue this breathing for 4 or 5 minutes. Encourage children not to force the breathing; it won’t improve anything for them. Instead, they may want to imagine their lungs are like balloons which slowly inflate and deflate. Deep breathing is the basis of a lot of relaxation techniques, and once mastered, can be used with either guided imagery or progressive muscular relaxation to deepen relaxation.

Guided imagery

Guided imagery is something that children can enjoy and become very good at in time. It is a skill which uses children’s imaginations to help them gain greater control over their own relaxation levels.

Ask the child to think of either a colour, smell, humming, light, warmth, or other pleasant, comfortable feeling that makes them feel peaceful and relaxed.

Guide the child through a deep breathing exercise as outlined above.

Ask the child to close their eyes and imagine that with each breath they take in, their body becomes filled slowly with their favourite color, smell, humming, light, warmth, or other pleasant, comfortable feeling.

Then have them practice – still with closed eyes – breathing in that color or sensation and "sending" it (blowing it) throughout the body. If your child, for example, chooses "blue," guide them to visualise the blue colour going down their throat, into the neck and chest, down to the tummy, and so on until they are filled with the beautiful, peaceful, wonderful blue…and are relaxed and in control.

An example of this is the healing light:

Ask the child to sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Clothes should be worn loose and not constrictive.

Ask the child to close their eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, and to listen only to the sound of their breathing for a while.

After a minute or two, tell the child that you are going to call the healing light. Ask the child to imagine that a small, bright light is beginning to shine just above their forehead. Tell the child that the light is nice and warm and beautiful, but not hot. The light is white (or the child’s favourite colour), and it pours down onto their forehead bringing gentle warmth and a pleasant feeling.

You could say to the child: “You can feel the warmth on your head; it’s warming your skin and your hair. Slowly feel this light moving down your face. Even with your eyes closed you can see this light relaxing all the tiny muscles around your eyes, your cheeks, and your nose. This light is moving down to your mouth, your lips, and covers the front of your face. Your face is shining and loose and relaxed now. Feel this light rolling down into your neck and shoulders, making them bright and relaxed. You can actually feel your shoulders drop with all the stiffness just melting away. Imagine you can see this light moving down your arms, to your elbows, and down again to your wrists, and your hands. As the light moves you can feel warmth moving with it. See each finger filling with this healing white light, your hands are tingling and bright and relaxed".

Do the same for the lungs, heart, chest, tummy (pretend that the child can breathe or swallow the light to get it inside them), before moving down the legs, knees, back of the calves, ankles, feet and toes. The more detail you use the better; children will enjoy learning about their bodies and what they can do with them.

PMR variation

Settle back and get as comfortable as you possibly can. Close your eyes gently. Tune in to your breathing. (Pause) Notice it's pace and rhythm. (Pause) take another breath, a little deeper this time, letting yourself feel completely calm, peaceful, comfortable and relaxed. (Pause) Now , with the rest of your body feeling more and more comfortable and relaxed, slowly clench your right fist. Clench it tighter and tighter and study the tension. Keep it clenched and feel the tension in your fist, hand, and forearm. (Short Pause) Now let your hand relax and go limp, allowing your fingers to become loose. Notice the contrast between the feeling of tension and now the feeling of relaxation. (Short Pause) Let your whole body go and relax even more completely. (Short Pause) Now bend both of your elbows and tense your biceps. Tense them hard until they almost quiver. Hold them tight and study the tension. (Short Pause) Now let your arms straighten out and drop gently to your sides. go limp, feeling heavy and relaxed. Notice the tension leave your muscles and experience relaxation that replaces the tension. Let the feeling flow and spread into the rest of your body so that you feel peaceful and calm. Feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed. (Pause) (From this point onward, pause where it seems appropriate to allow enough time for the tensing and relaxing to occur.)

Focus all your attention on your neck, your shoulders, and your upper back. As you breathe, imagine that you are releasing tension from your neck, shoulders, and upper back. With each breath you take, feel your neck, shoulders, and upper back grow heavier and more and more relaxed. As you release tension in your arms, neck, shoulders, and upper back, feel the wave of relaxation moving downwards through your torso, lower back and stomach. With each breath, you become more and more relaxed.

Now tighten and flex the muscles in your buttocks and thighs. You can flex your thighs by pressing down on your heels with your toes in the air. Hold the tension. Keep the muscles tight and tense. now let go. Relax and notice the difference as you let your hips and thighs relax and allow that feeling to proceed on its own until you feel completely and deeply relaxed.

Now press your toes straight out away from your body as if you were on tiptoes. Feel the muscles in your calves become taught and tense. Hold the tension. Study the tension and now relax. Feel the difference between the tension and the delightful, calm, peaceful feeling of being deeply relaxed. Feel the heaviness of your entire lower body as you relax further still.

If you wish, you can become even more deeply relaxed by merely taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling. As you breath deeply, feel your entire body become heavy, comfortable and relaxed. Think the following thoughts to yourself: "I feel quiet. I am feeling deeply relaxed. My body feels calm and quiet. My neck, my jaws, my forehead are all calm and smooth. My whole body is heavy, comfortable, relaxed, and quiet. My arms and hands are heavy and warm. I am at peace." (At this point, give yourself a few more minutes of deep relaxation before moving on toward ending the relaxation session.)

(Ending the experience) Take a deep breath, wiggle your toes and open your eyes. when you do so you will feel refreshed and calm.

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Content checked by a Team Member on 20/04/2012
Last modified on 20/04/2012

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