Today’s big idea is that a pre-requisite to true relaxation is a feeling of safety. After all, you can’t relax if you feel like there’s anything that could possibly be a threat nearby. I mean, doesn’t that make sense, just on a commonsense level? From a physiological perspective, if your sensory neurons are detecting something that feels a little off or scary or unknown, it’s going to trigger your sympathetic nervous system, which activates the flight, fight, or freeze reaction. And when you’re in that stress state, you can’t also be in the relaxed, rest and digest state. It’s basically an either/or. So no matter what you’re going to do to relax, or how long you have to do it, something you need to do to really maximize your efforts is to establish your own safety.
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Here are some things that cue your sensory neurons that all is well:
Soothing noises, including voices
Experiencing a feeling of weightedness
So you have a lot of levers to work with here.
Now you’re ready to layer on this extra piece that is going to help you really ‘go there’ when you do your relaxation practice.
Gather something that will either make you feel warm, or make you feel weighted. So, if it’s chilly in your house, make sure you have socks on and maybe a sweater or sweatshirt. Or, wrap your heaviest blanket around you, whether it’s an official weighted blanket or just a nice heavy quilt or something.
You also ideally will allow yourself to move slowly to get to your spot where you’ll do your relaxation practice--you know, you don’t want to race there and then sit down, because you’ll just have to come down from that rushing before you can even begin to think about relaxing.
If there’s a lot of noise outside your room, shut your window or your door, or both, so that you don’t hear loud or erratic or attention getting noises. If you have a white noise machine, you could turn it on.
And then make yourself as comfortable as possible. Just cozy it up in whatever way speaks to you. If you’re heading to an acupuncture appointment, wear comfy clothes. If you’re going to lie down on your floor in constructive rest, put a blanket over your torso to weigh yourself down. If you’re going to do a few extended exhale breaths, slowly get up and walk to close your door, then sit in your most comfortable chair, or even lie on the floor or the couch.
These tiny little tweaks really help you go farther in to the zone.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to give some thought to what could make your environment display more of those qualities that contribute to feelings of safety. And I’ll repeat them again, in case you want to jot them down:
Soothing noises, including tones of voice
A feeling of weightedness
Thanks for listening this week! If you missed any of these episodes on relaxation, they started with episode 452, and I shared all kinds of actual techniques during them, so go back and catch up!
And come back next week
When I’m covering ways to really embrace the energy of summer. After 2020 and the global pandemic, we’re looking to this particular summer to make up for the past year. So how can we take advantage of this least stressful season to refill our cups, without getting our expectations overly high? That’s what we’re going to dive into next week!