Relaxation – how can it help me in a moment of dilemma?
I imagine my life as a container, a glass jar perhaps that sometimes gets cracked with fear or unpleasantness, or at times the lid can come off completely. How do I get this jar repaired? I look to relaxation, taking a considered judgement of what has happened. What I do know is that it’s time to take a break…. and relax…. to deal with confusion and anger in a healthy, productive way. Anger and confusion are normal and natural emotions, and there is nothing wrong with having feelings – we are human, after all, but we all have the power to decide how to deal with this emotion we are experiencing.
All we really need to do is take a few moments just to let go, to help us feel relaxed and calm. It feels good to relax. Relaxing for a moment will help us to respond calmly, rather than acting out of emotion.It’s okay to be angry; we just need to allow ourselves to feel whatever it is we are feeling right now, noticing this feeling, but not reacting immediately. We need to be aware we are observing. Our emotions are neither right nor wrong… they just are.
So a relaxation exercise might go like this:
Take a deep breath in. Hold for a moment, and now breathe out.
Breathe in… hold that tension…. and now breathe out…. feeling the tension release with your breath.
Breathe in…. and out……. in….. out….. Keep breathing like this, slowly…. deeply…. and let your body relax a little.
Turn your attention again to how you are feeling. Notice the physical sensation of anger. Where in your body is the anger stored? Some people notice that they tighten their shoulders when they are feeling angry. Others who deal with anger notice clenched fists or tight jaws. Anger may be experienced as a feeling in the stomach…. the neck…. any one or a number of places in the body can demonstrate physical symptoms of anger.
Many of these physical symptoms are uncomfortable. Some of these symptoms can be relieved right now by relaxing your muscles. Focus on a few areas to begin this process of dealing with anger by relaxing your muscles. I suggest you start with your hands and arms, first tighten your hands into fists. Feel the tension in your hands and arms. Hold…. tighter…. tighter…. and relax. Let go, allowing your hands and arms to be relaxed, loose, and limp. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation.
Now see if you can create a feeling of relaxation in your shoulders. Take a moment to relax your shoulders. You may choose to tighten the muscles, and then relax, or you can simply relax your shoulders without tensing them first. Do whatever seems to work the best.
Focus now on your face and jaws. Relax your face and jaw, tensing first if you want to. Let all the tension leave your face….. Let the tension leave your jaw…. leaving your face and jaw limp, smooth, and relaxed.
Scan your body now, for remaining areas of tension. Relax each area that feels tense…. scan your body from head to toe…. relaxing each part of your body.
Then pause; take note of how you are feeling now.
You are controlling anger right now, just by the fact that you have not yet reacted with angry behaviours. You have chosen to relax, to deal with anger in a healthy way.
To increase the control you have over anger, you may want to repeat some of the following affirmations to help create realistic, rational thinking…. also called self-control thoughts.
I acknowledge that I am feeling angry right now, and accept the way I feel.
It’s okay to feel angry.
I have the power to control my reactions.
I can fully experience this anger, yet wait before I take action.
I can feel angry, but calm and in control at the same time.
To deal with anger that may remain, you may need a way to express the anger and get it out. You do not have to keep your emotions inside… you can choose how to express them.
You can let anger out by breathing deeply…. breathing in relaxation, and breathing out anger…. letting anger go with each breath.
There are other ways to express anger, too. Physical exercise, writing a diary, talking to someone you trust, such as a counsellor- there are many ways to express yourself. Talking to a counsellor is particularly helpful when the angry feelings seem excessive, inappropriate or keep coming back, as they may be related to issues from the past or intense internal pressures. Otherwise, when the anger has decreased and you are feeling calm, you might want to address the situation that was upsetting you by taking action to change the situation, or speaking to the person you were upset with. Or you may just choose to let the situation go.
Congratulate yourself when you reach a better solution to your dilemma.