Week two of the Pain Coping Skills research study.
Following up on the Progressive Relaxation guided technique of week one, in week two we learned a simple and useful technique called Mini-Practices.
For relaxation to benefit you the most, you need to learn how to relax and calm yourself upon your command. This skill can be very helpful when you are feeling increased tension or pain, but are unable to go to a secluded area to do progressive relaxation.
To Do a Mini-Practice:
- Stop yourself in whatever you are doing
- Take a deep breath
- Say the word “relax” to yourself
- Slowly exhale
- As you exhale focus on the sensations of relaxation
- Allow your jaws to relax, allow sensations of heaviness to flow downward from your shoulders throughout your body
- After 30 seconds go back to what you were doing – regardless of how well you have succeeded in relaxing
Reminders to do Mini-Practices
Your goal is to do about 5 mini-practices the first day and then gradually build up to about 20 mini-practices a day over the next few weeks. You can remind yourself to do a mini-practice in many different ways. Some people do a mini-practice every time they feel annoyed or tense. Other people do one every time they stop at a stop light or pick up the telephone. You can remind yourself to do a mini-practice by placing adhesive “dots” around the house (by the door, near your mirror) or on personal belongings (such as a watch, or pocketbook). Every time you see a “dot” you will be reminded to do a mini-practice.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to remind yourself to relax, what is important is that you practice frequently. Little by little you can develop a habit of keeping yourself relaxed throughout the day.
Learning to relax really is a skill. We live in a constant state of flight or fight. Learning to shut that down, even if it is only for 30 second increments is a powerful tool.
After practicing this technique for a week I can say it is something we should all learn and add to our coping skills toolbox. I have not counted to confirm that I am up to 20 mini-practices a day, but the cumulative affect of the number I am doing is very positive. I have a greater feeling of control over my emotions and enjoy the short sensations of relaxation. They are kind of addicting! I find myself doing one each time I wash my hands – and I am compulsive hand washer.
Try it for yourself. It is such a simple and useful technique there really is no reason not to try it. The researcher did mention that some people have an aversion to the word “relax” (feels too harsh), and if this is the case with you, it is perfectly acceptable to find your own word – chill, easy, breath, etc.
Be sure to get yourself a pack of the adhesive dots. They are a fun and useful way to remind yourself to relax.
Such a good useful article on mini-relaxation (never heard of it, sounds really good!)…and then you totally busted me up with the blue dots on the pups! Finley looks so much like he’s wondering if you’re truly serious about the blue dot you just stuck on his forehead? Does he have to keep it? OH that is so priceless!!
It is a great technique Kathy. I think you will appreciate it once you try it. Yes, Finley was completely over the blue dot on his head by the time I got this shot. They are both such characters.
my foggy brain says
Thank you so much for sharing this information! I am looking forward to learning and turning into a habit for me. I find relaxing to be one of the hardest skills to teach to people and as for myself and many of my friends… to learn. In this life of constant madness, relaxing is so difficult. This is an easy exercise, one that I can implement immediately… and I need to!
I plan to share with my friends, I think this is great for those coping with loss, dealing with anxiety, struggling with anger management. Any of these things require the skill to relax.
Thank you again for sharing and I LOVE that picture of the dogs!!
You are so welcome! After trying it for a week I was very excited to share. How simple – and how useful. Relaxing is difficult, but like anything we practice, we can get better at it over time. Please do share it with your friends. You are right, this could help with so many struggles.
Thanks for this! I have been doing deep breathing and mediation lately and it helps a bit. Also am learning to give myself acupressure but its better if you have someone else to do it for you.
Are those your dogs??? They are the greatest!
Deep breathing and meditation are such powerful tools Barbara. I am glad for you that they are helping. I hope the mini-practices can benefit you even more and you are able to create some peace and relaxation in your life.
Yes, those are my pups – Koko on the left, Finley on they right. They are a constant source of joy and entertainment. What would we do without our critters?
Kivlan Maron says
this is a great exercise. I think sometimes we need to be reminded of simple things like breathing! I especially like Step 7 – go back to what you were doing, regardless of how successful you were at relaxing. I like that you can allow yourself to just try it, and try again later if you’re not able to fully get there.
Barbara, how has the acupressure been working for you?
Anna Murphy says
I was really getting into the mini-relaxation part then I saw the dogs and I’ve got laughter tears in my eyes.
Well, laughter is good too.
Thanks for this new tool tip. I’m definitely going to try it.
JoAnne Rognlien says
Found this great Website from our Moderator, Lisa Neptune, Portland Oregon.
She is great & this is a wonderful discovery!
I just was diagnosed with fibromyalgia today. I love this article and will start my mini relaxations tomorrow. But I doubt if my two pups will set still long enough for the blue dots.
Hi Annie. I hope receiving a diagnosis helps you receive the help and treatment you need. I am glad you like this post. It is a great, simple technique that continues to benefit me. And I say everything is made easier with the love of our pets – whether they sit still for us or not! 🙂 My best to you!