Would you like to learn simple and effective relaxation and self-awareness techniques that will increase the quality of your sleep and improve how you feel? If you do, you are in for a treat! Below you will learn the quick and dirty on deep belly breathing, self-massage and visualization. You will gain the helpful tools you need to start sleeping and feeling better now! Let’s get started!
In the process of sleeping good and feeling good, deep breathing is essential. Deep intentional belly breaths that go beyond our diaphragm and into our stomach calm and relax every cell in our body. Often, we are so overwhelmed with life, work, and responsibilities that we lose track of our breathing and it becomes shallow and quick. It is paramount to our overall health to get our breath in balance. To do so, follow these helpful tips from www.amsa.org:
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on the abdomen should rise higher than the one on the chest. This ensures that the diaphragm is pulling air into the bases of the lungs.
- After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose imagining that you are sucking in all the air in the room and hold it for a count of 7 (or as long as you are able, not exceeding 7)
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. It is important to remember that we deepen respirations not by inhaling more air but through completely exhaling it.
Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute). At this rate our heart rate variability increases which has a positive effect on cardiac health.
Paired with a daily practice of intentional deep breathing, you can add self-massage techniques. These techniques will have amazing effects on your sleep patterns and your feelings. Here are a few ways to get started:
Scalp massage: This is an easy way to improve how we feel and to fall asleep quickly at night. When you are able to and in a safe environment, gently begin to use all ten fingers to grasp your skull from each side with the tips of your fingers from each hand meeting at the center of your skull. Gently walk and rub your fingers along the mid-line of your head and anywhere that feels good to you. Make sure that you take the time to massage the base of your skull, forehead, and temples. You can branch down your cheeks and self-massage your earlobes as well. Ear massage is a great way to hit pressure points that are used in Oriental medicine to treat sleeplessness and anxiety.
Next, in the pursuit of sleeping better and feeling better, visualization and guided imagery can be a great tool! Visualization and Guided imagery are when you either listen to your internal self, another person or a recording coaching you through a series of guided events that you picture in your mind. You can purchase CD’s or download podcasts with guided imagery. This practice is very helpful and often over-looked. Best practiced while you are lying down with your eyes closed, this helpful modality can be used at any time of the day and for seconds to hours. I urge you to spend some time learning this practice starting with increasing the moments you spend visualizing positive, happy and joyful events.
These simple recommendations are meant to complement a balanced diet and a daily moderate exercise routine to increase your body’s ability to sleep and feel better. If you are unable to sustain a healthy diet or do not exercise regularly, please look into sourcing and purchasing high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements and look into finding someone who can help you begin a fitness regime. Take excellent care!