From isolation to missing time with family, the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for everyone. However, it could be even more devastating for the senior community. That said, it’s important to find ways to stay relaxed and reduce stress. This is where active relaxation can help.
What is Active Relaxation?
Active relaxation is a stress-release technique that involves movement instead of the common forms of relaxation, such as reading or meditation. Some active relaxation activities include yoga, painting, or gardening. Not only are these exercises enjoyable, but they can also be very effective at reducing stress and staying calm.
Keep reading to learn more about active relaxation, some common techniques, and how it’s beneficial for senior health.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
While there are several active relaxation techniques out there, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is one of the most common. Also known as Progressive Relaxation, this technique helps to relax your muscles and ease the mind. The exercise begins with tensing individual muscle groups, then releasing the tension.
This stress-relieving technique was first introduced by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s. The exercise not only helps to relax the mind and ease stress, but it also has some physical benefits. For one, it helps to ease tense muscles. This happens because the exercise focuses on feeling the difference between tense and relaxed muscles. This helps to reduce overall tension in the whole body.
Luckily, there are many different ways for seniors to participate in active relaxation. If you enjoy calming exercises that can improve anxiety and reduce stress, there are several techniques out there. Take a look at some of the most common options below:
This active relaxation technique involves repeating statements to yourself about what you want to feel. This typically involves feelings of warmth and/or heaviness. For example, you could say something like, “My arms feel heavy and warm.” After repeating this several times, it helps to actively feel these sensations throughout your body. For the most benefit, staying focused is key. If you can calm the mind and only think about feeling those sensations, this can lead to several mental and physical benefits.
While it may sound like a surprise, breathing techniques have many advantages for the mind and body. Not only do they help to ease anxiety and stay calm, but they can also give you more energy during the day. But once again, focus is a critical component of this exercise. If you can stay solely focused on your breathing, you will reap the most benefit.
The key in this technique is to breathe from your diaphragm. While we don’t do this naturally, it can easily be learned and practiced. When you master this, it can go a long way for relieving tension.
As this exercise is widely used in yoga, it’s referred to as ‘The Complete Breath’. The process starts with diaphragmatic breathing, then turns to thorax and chest expansion. To complete this technique, you’ll want to take a long, deep breath while feeling it in your chest and abdominal area, which should expand. After the lungs fill up completely, exhale while focusing on emptying your chest and abdominal area. As the air moves upwards throughout your body, focus on the oxygen escaping your chest and mouth.
This exercise should be slow and never rushed. You want your mind and body to stay as calm as possible, providing you with the most benefit. If this exercise can be mastered on a daily basis, you can experience less stress and a more relaxed mind.
Yoga is one of the best active relaxation activities. It’s a very beneficial form of both mental and physical exercise. Furthermore, it’s perfect for seniors. Not only does yoga work at your own pace, but it’s also the ideal way to reduce stress.
If you’re new to yoga, start small. While you want to feel a good stretch, you never want to pull something or cause pain. For starters, do some simple yoga stretches and focus on your breath. Focus on feeling warmth as your stretch, and make sure your breathing is calm and controlled. If you can practice yoga every day, you can feel more relaxed with less stress.
Benefits of Active Relaxation
Staying active is key to physical and mental health. While this can involve high-intensity workouts, active relaxation techniques are also very beneficial.
Here are some of the leading advantages of active relaxation:
- Eases stress
- Limits anxiety
- Soothes tension
- Stretches the body
- Calms the mind
- Improves performance
- Speeds up recovery time
Active relaxation can go a long way for the mental and physical health of seniors.
Here at Vista Springs, we believe that every senior should live a long, happy, and fulfilling life. Being a leading assisted living community, our team helps to promote a healthy and relaxing lifestyle. To learn more about Vista Springs, contact us today.