Relaxation therapy does not yield its full benefit in a day or even a week. However, once you have practiced relaxation techniques systematically for several weeks, you may well gain a considerable degree of pain relief and improved mobility.
Holding stress and tension in the body for a long time sets up many adverse physical reactions in the system. You will feel considerably drained of energy, for instance, muscle tension is increased, your blood pressure is likely to be raised and the circulation is hampered.
Relaxation techniques that work to calm the nervous system and release muscle tension are an excellent way of coping with the pain of arthritis without taking more painkillers. The ability to relax will also help all the other body systems to normalize.
Learn to breathe
Tensing up against contact pain promotes poor posture and disturbs digestion, but above all it can load to hyperventilation, a type of shallow breathing rather like panting that eventually disturbs the chemical composition of every cell in the body, and puts the system into perpetual panic mode.
It is impossible to relax unless you are breathing deeply and slowly. For many people who have become used to being in contact pain, this takes a good deal of practice to achieve.
Try this method of building relaxed breathing into your life. First of all make yourself as comfortable as possible, and try to ensure that your weight is evenly distributed on both sides of your body. The more symmetry you can attain, the easier relaxed breathing will become. Turn off any main lights and make sure that your immediate environment is as quiet and serene as you can make it.
Now close your eyes and pay conscious attention to your breathing. Allow each breath to become longer, slower and deeper. Breathe deeply into the abdomen, pushing your stomach out as you breathe and letting it sink back down again as you breathe out.
With each inhalation, repeat to yourself, deep and log and slow and with each exhalation, repeat slow and long and deep. You may find your mind wandering, but every time it does, bring it back to your breathing again.
As the lungs continue to breathe deeper, longer and slower, become aware of how the whole of your body begins to breathe deeper, longer and slower as well. As you inhale, imagine pure energy flooding in. As you exhale, imagine the pain flooding out.
To end the relaxation, move your hand gently, open your eyes, sit up and lastly, stand up very carefully. Try to practice this relaxed breathing for five minutes at first, gradually building up the time as you get used to it.
1. Sit in a position that is comfortable. Some people are happy sitting cross legged, other prefer sitting back on their heels. Alternatively you can sit in a chair, preferably one with an upright back, or lie on a mat on the floor.
2. Place your right hand on your abdomen just below your ribcage and your left hand in the center of your upper chest. When you are breathing abdominally, your lower hand should move in and out and your upper hand should be motionless.
3. Rest your hands in your lap with thumbs lightly touching. Count to 10 as you breathe in through your noses, hold the breath for a few seconds and slowly exhale. Repeat this 10 times. If any distractions slip into your mind, let them float in and float out again.