Dont You Relax....?
by Rob Kall, M.Ed. and Rhonda Greenberg, Psy.D.
"All (wo)mankind's troubles are caused by one single thing, which is
their inability to sit quietly in a room." Blaise Pascal
|Laura spent last Sunday in bed, reading and
relaxing in her pajamas-- a deliciously peaceful, quiet rest day. The children were out
with friends and her husband was busy around the house.
Dont we all long for a day
like this? No responsibilities, not trying to get every chore done that should have been
done last month, no immediate work pressures? Just a lazy day relaxing body and mind.
But Laura was uneasy, troubled with nagging thoughts that she wasnt doing the
right thing. Was this delicious relaxation where she was deservedly letting go after a a
busy week, or a case of depressed inertia-- a recurrence of her depression.
Actually, this is the first time in her adult life that she wasnt feeling
depressed and hopeless about her life. Since her depression has lifted, shes feeling
empowered, her self esteem has dramatically improved, and she is experiencing a new,
higher energy level.
But she worried that maybe this day of ease, of letting go and relaxing was more a
return to her depressed former self.
This fear of letting go because it will turn into something unwanted is not uncommon.
Hard driving sales reps or executives are often afraid to let go
and relax because theyll lose their sharp edge, their motivation or the energy and
enthusiasm they put into their work. ...Some people have trouble just sitting quietly,
being with themselves. We see this in our practice and in training groups.
||Some people, when they let go of their tensed
muscles or their racing mind, find themselves confronting thoughts or feelings which are
very uncomfortable. Sometimes, particularly when there are past traumatic, long lost
memories, it is best to seek professional guidance when learning to relax. In this
situation, relaxing can actually be very upsetting. A professional can help you gradually
let go and begin to deal effectively with the old, long blocked memories.
All of these
"reactions" to what are normally healthy self health techniques can usually be
handled effectively by people trained to teach how to use them. Sometimes it takes
exploring some issues psychotherapeutically or it may be helpful to switch to a different
slant on the approach. Some techniques most people enjoy include eyes-closed mental
imagery for relaxation, comfortably paced -breathing, where the shoulders drop away from
the ears with each exhale, muscle, temperature, or EEG brainwave biofeedback, or
personalized positive experience guided imagery. For people who have difficulty staying
still, a walking or moving relaxation, or SMR training (muscle quieting) can be valuable.
Through experience, practice and/or training people can learn to tailor a unique program
which combines several different relaxation and coping techniques. You can use different
elements to take you deeper into quiet places. Its fun to match up optimal
relaxation techniques for different life situations.
If theres a mind/body optimal living topic youd like covered, write
to us care of the Newspaper.
Rhonda E. Greenberg Psy.D. is a licensed clinical
psychologist and personal coach and
Rob Kall, M.Ed., is a counselor, Biofeedback trainer and personal coach at
The Center for Optimal Living, 211 No. Sycamore Street, Newtown, PA 18940