Relaxation Strategies for Counsellors
It is important to be aware of the way in which stress may be impacting on you and your counselling work. Which aspects of you are more susceptible to the influence of stress?
“What do you find relaxing? Is it dancing, art, meditation, fishing, going for a walk with friends, reading a book, listening to music, shopping, a gym work out, talking to a friend or playing sport?” Source: “Advice from the Mental Health Association NSW Inc.” (2002)
Relaxation exercises allow you to create a state of deep rest, which is very healing to the entire body and can contribute to self-care.The above quote highlights the diversity of activities that individuals may find relaxing. It is important to find ways to incorporate relaxing activities into your weekly routine as a means of preventing burnout.
When you are in a relaxed state, your body responds in a number of ways:
- Metabolism slows, as do physiological functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
- Muscle tension decreases.
- Brain wave patterns shift from the faster waves that occur during a normal active day to the slower waves, which appear just before falling asleep or in times of deep relaxation.
Not all relaxation exercises suit everyone. So it is important to try a number of techniques to find one which suits you. We are going to look at one particular relaxation technique. The following exercise has been selected because it takes only a few minutes of your time and can be used almost anywhere.
When a technique is practiced regularly, you will find that it becomes easier, and therefore will be more effective in reducing your stress and anxiety level and also be more able to centre your thoughts and emotions.
Relaxation Technique — Erasing Stress
Erasing stress is a visualising technique. It allows you to visualise the thought or situation which is constantly on your mind and helps erase it from your thoughts.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Visualize a situation, a person, or even a belief (such as, “A situation at work which is confronting” or “A home renovation which is causing disruption in the household”) that causes you to feel anxious, fearful or upset.
As you do this you might see a specific person, an actual place, or simply shapes and colours. Where do you see this stressful picture? Is it below you, to the side, in front of you? How does it look? Is it big or little, dark or light, or does it have a specific colour?
Imagine that a large eraser, like the kind used to erase chalk marks, has just floated into your hand. Actually feel and see the eraser in your hand. Take the eraser and begin to rub it over the area where the stressful picture is located.
As the eraser rubs out the stressful picture it fades, shrinks, and finally disappears. When you can no longer see the stressful picture, simply continue to focus on your deep breathing for another minute, inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.