6. Support for you the carer > Looking after your own health and wellbeing

Looking after your own health and wellbeing

6) Relaxation techniques (deep breathing control)

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In this film you will see a basic relaxation technique. This involves control of breathing. When we are stressed our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure can be raised. Relaxation lowers the heart rate, breathing becomes slow and controlled and this helps to lower blood pressure.
Relaxation should be practiced regularly. It is a skill which many people do not find easy at first. Once you have mastered the breathing technique you can combine it with other forms of relaxation.

Breathing control
Find a quiet time and a comfortable chair to sit in. Try to avoid distractions such as the telephone, television or times when you know you are likely to be disturbed. Avoid this technique just after a meal. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. Repeat this slow breathing pattern listening to your breathing as it slows down. By deeply breathing you are taking in fresh air deep into the lungs and with it more oxygen. Once you have a breathing rhythm close your eyes. This is a good basis for starting your relaxation. Try this for 10 minutes at first and gradually build up the time. Notice the difference in your body from when you started to the feeling when you finish. As you get better at this breathing technique you will be able to do this when ever you want to and still feel a benefit. This is good to help you become calm before you go to sleep.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Some people find it difficult to realise when their muscles are tense. This technique can help you by focusing on what the muscle groups feel like when extra tense and then extra relaxed. Start in the same way with the breathing technique until your breathing rate is slow and controlled. Place your arms by your side. Starting at your feet tense your foot muscles- holding the tension for a silent count of ten and then release the tension. Notice the difference in the tension and the relaxation. As you relax imagine each area of your body in turn becoming warm, comfortable and heavy. Move up the areas of the body, from feet, calf, thigh, buttocks, lower back arms from hands, forearms and upper arms, shoulders, neck and face. Rest for a while as you feel the difference between feeling tense and feeling relaxed.