A ‘break’ can have several meanings, but the common themes are to have fun, relax, and be safe. Break time may take the form of a trip south to relax by the ocean during the day and to further unwind in the evening at restaurants/clubs. However, even though most of us are not taking trips South for the week, we are still entitled to relax.
How this is possible without physically getting away from everything?
There are relaxation techniques available for everyone. The steps of these relaxation techniques do not require you to get into contorted positions or to chant mantras. A person is able to tailor these techniques to their individual lifestyle which can be used anytime and anywhere.
Here are some good techniques to learn:
- Position your body in a relaxed posture with your spine and torso upright or straight; e.g., sitting in a chair or lying on the floor.
- Close your eyes gently (not while driving) and relax the muscles in your face.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose and feel your chest fill with clean, crisp air as it goes into your body.
- Feel the coolness of the air as it passes down through your throat into your chest. You are filling your lungs and chest with cool, crisp and clean air. Focus your thoughts on your rising chest as it fills with air.
- Slowly exhale the warmed air upward through your throat, exiting your mouth, while focusing your thoughts and attention to the falling of your chest.
- As this warmed air is exiting your body, it is taking with it many of the worries/concerns and stressors of your day.
- Repeat this process while focusing on the rhythm of your chest. If your mind wanders, gently let it go and say quietly to yourself, “it is OK for me to take time for myself and relax.”
- After the deep cleansing breaths have been repeated several times and a relaxed state is achieved, you may begin to form a mental picture of a pastoral or quiet scene, which is relaxing; like a lake, the ocean, the woods or a mountain.
- Envision yourself at that place experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations; i.e., the warmth of the sun, the smell of the salt air, the sounds of the birds, waves and breeze.
These techniques become easier with practice, and soon they will become natural to you.If they are difficult the first few times you practice them, please, keep trying.
Enjoy the whole experience and sense of being relaxed for as long as you are able. A mental trip to a relaxing place is great therapy even when you are unable to physically travel there.
Other things to remember about Spring Break are having fun and being safe. I think you probably know how to have fun. However, there can be dangers: many times having fun or unwinding includes the use of substances. The Counseling Center staff and the Substance Abuse Task Force is concerned about your safety. We urge you to think before doing anything irresponsible.
Written by W. Cameron Dean, PsyD.