It seems these days that most articles about relaxation trumpet meditation as the be-all and end-all. But if you are anything like our Cancer Therapist Clare Reed, you may not like meditating. So, what can you do when you know you need ‘down time’ but have lost the art of chilling out? Clare has some suggestions.
Let’s talk about what relaxation is first. When I ask my clients what they do for relaxation, they mention things like watching TV, going for a walk, reading or listening to books and podcasts. All lovely hobbies, but these are not giving the body and brain a combined rest.
A combined rest is when you are doing nothing. When you aren’t moving your body and you aren’t mentally focussing on anything. Reading and watching TV really engages the brain. The brain is constantly analysing and assessing what it is seeing and listening to. Walking or any other physical activity is not relaxing the muscles as they are active. Combined relaxation is shutting down both the brain and body, as much as possible. Which is why meditation is very popular, as it does both.
Here are my alternative ideas for those seeking other relaxation ideas:
1. A bath at a temperature that doesn’t stress the body i.e. neither too hot nor too cold with some magnesium salts, such as Epsom salts, is a great way to relax the body and mind. Resist the urge to watch or read anything in the bath. Close your eyes and relax.
2. Sitting in nature. Grab a picnic blanket or a portable comfy chair and sit outside in nature. Great if you have a garden with lots of flowers, grass, trees and birds. Or head to your nearest park and find a quiet spot. Sitting and looking at the nature and listening to birds and insects is a great way to unwind. This is very important if you live in a city.
3. Sky watching is one of my favourites. If you have a garden or balcony, lay down and watch the sky. Or head out to the park or beach to have a lie down. Children can watch the sky for lengthy periods and so can us adults, if we choose to. Watch the way the clouds move if it is a particularly windy day or watch the aeroplane’s jet streams.
4. Listen to non-lyrical music while resting on the couch. Jazz, classical and ambient music is great. Don’t pick any music that reminds you of any significant events, or people, as the mind will get focussed on memories. Pick music you aren’t familiar with such as on Spotify or pick an internet radio station with non-stop music and no ads. Close your eyes and focus on the sounds. Here is a relaxing classical mix.
5. Listen to Binaural music. Some music has different brain wave frequency sounds such as Theta waves. This music helps the mind and body relax. You will often hear this while having a massage or in a retreat. There are lots of YouTube videos featuring this music.
6. Have a relaxing aromatherapy massage with an Oncologist Masseuse. Not a Swedish, Lymph Drainage or sports massage! Ask the massage therapist to use relaxing oils and say your intention is to doze off, i.e. you don’t want to talk during the massage.
I am sure there are many other ideas and it would be great if you can share them here for others to be inspired by. For now, I am off to watch the sky. Happy relaxing.
For more information about Clare or to book a Skype Session with her, visit her website CBT for Cancer here. Clare offers tailor-made CBT for Cancer Therapy Programmes depending on whether you are at a pre-diagnosis stage, during treatment stage, or if you are post cancer. She also offers a Programme for family and friends of someone going through cancer if there is someone in your life who you think might benefit.