In collaboration with Dr Camilla Rosan
Active relaxation means focussing on your body in order to relax. This can be done through a number of techniques including breathing exercises, music therapy, muscle relaxation, and movement therapies. You can also relax through massage.
In terms of the science, active relaxation exercises are thought to work as they affect hormone levels and reduce our autonomic nervous system arousal, which can in turn improve our emotional health!
Why not give it a go? Here is a simple relaxation exercise, that focuses on relaxing your body:
- Lie down or sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the distance.
- Start by clenching your toes as much as you can for a few seconds then releasing them. Notice the difference between the two feelings.
- Match this to your breathing. Tense your muscle as you take a deep breath in, and relax as you breathe out.
- Move up your body to your thighs, your stomach and all the way to your shoulders and hands, clenching and relaxing each muscle in turn. Take time to notice any parts of your body that feel tense, tight or tired.You can repeat if you still feel tense.
- Take a moment to relax, then slowly and gently begin to move. When you feel ready, you can stand up slowly.
Movement exercises such as pilates, walking, stretching and dancing have been found to improve emotional health in women who are trying to conceive. So if you’ve been meaning to try one of these activities for a while, now is a great time to get started.
Massage therapy has also been shown to be effective in reducing depression and studies have shown that when couples massage each other for 20 minutes, twice a week, it can lead to improved couple relationship and individual emotional wellbeing and infant birth outcomes (which is a great excuse for a massage!).