There are many ways you can use relaxation techniques to help yourself sleep better. If you find that you are “trying” to get to sleep then stop trying and focus your attention on, for instance, your big toe. Really concentrate on becoming aware of it. You can also focus on how cosy and comfortable you feel. By focusing on something else and directing your attention away from “sleep” it stops building up anxiety about it.
Alternatively, get up and do something different for a few minutes then say to yourself ” I am going to bed now and will soon be asleep”
Focusing on your breathing is a useful way of helping yourself to relax:-
Tell yourself that you are going to relax and drift into a restful sleep and wake up at X o’clock in the morning! Then become aware of the rise and fall of your chest, of the flow in and out of your breath. Don’t try and change it in any way, just be aware of your breathing. Follow the flow of air in and out through your nose and notice the slight temperature difference between the air you breathe in, which is slightly cooler than the air you breathe out, because the air you breathe out has been warmed by its journey through your lungs. Just be with your breathing – you don’t have to do anything at all. If a stray thought comes into your head, let it flow out again, you don’t need to follow it, just focus back on the rise and fall of your chest etc. Maybe then imagine a calm, relaxing place and really be there, seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling the place (see below).
You could also use a Progressive Muscular RelaxationTechnique and again tell yourself that you are going to relax and drift into a restful sleep and wake up at X o’clock in the morning. When you go to your “special place” imagine being yourself there falling asleep and enjoy it.
(YOU MAY WISH TO RECORD THIS AND THEN PLAY IT BACK TO YOURSELF)
A Progressive Muscular Relaxation Technique
Perhaps you would like to make yourself comfortable. Place your feet firmly on the floor and let your hands rest easily on your lap. If you prefer, you can lie down somewhere comfortable.
I would like you now to take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out just let your body go loose and slack, like a rag doll. Just let all the tensions drain away with each outgoing breath.
As you breathe out let your eyes close and focus on the muscles of your head and neck. Let the muscles of your head and neck go loose and slack. Become aware of the space within your mouth, of the position of your tongue. Notice the muscles of your throat relax as you swallow. You might like to imagine colour or a warm glow drifting
down your body from the top of your head as you begin to relax.
Let a feeling of comfort drift down into your neck and shoulders. Let the muscles around your shoulders go loose and slack, let the relaxation drift down your arms to your fingertips.
Let your arms feel heavy and comfortable. You might notice a tingling feeling or a feeling of warmth in your hands as they relax.
Let the muscles around your chest relax, let the feeling of comfort spread down into the muscles of your back and stomach. Let the muscles of your tummy go loose and slack as that colour drifts down.
Let any outside noise just recede into the background and contribute to a feeling of safety and comfort.
I would like you now to imagine a very special place, a place where you can feel completely relaxed and safe and calm.
Let your conscious mind wonder what place your unconscious mind will find for you.
It may be a place that you have visited, or it may be a place that your mind finds for you, it maybe inside or outside.
Look all around you notice all the colours, whatever you can see.
Smell any smells that might be there.
Hear any sounds that might be in the place you have chosen, and look to see where they are coming from. Begin to notice the texture of the ground your standing on or resting on, the temperature of the air around you. Above all, feel the peace and the calmness of the place you have chosen.
Really experience this special place because this is YOUR special place that no-one can take from you, a place where you can go when you need to relax, to recharge your batteries…..
Reproduced with kind permission from ‘Still-In the storm’ A self help guide to managing stress and anxiety by Dr.Ann Williamson (ISBN- 1899983641-1)
Focus on each part of your body in turn, merely directing your attention to each part as you label it to yourself:
Right Thumb, Right index finger, Right middle finger, Right ring finger, Right little finger, palm of the Right hand, back of the Right hand, the Right wrist, the Right forearm, the Right elbow, the Right upper arm, back of the Right shoulder, front of the Right shoulder, the Right side of the back, the Right side of the chest, the Right side of the tummy, the Right buttock, the Right thigh, the Right knee, back of the Right knee, the Right calf, the Right shin, the Right heel, the Right sole, the top of the Right foot, the Right toes, then Left Thumb, Left index finger, Left middle finger, Left ring finger, Left little finger, palm of the Left hand, back of the Left hand, the Left wrist, the Left forearm, the Left elbow, the Left upper arm, back of the Left shoulder, front of the Left shoulder, the Left side of the back, the Left side of the chest, the Left side of the tummy, the Left buttock, the Left thigh, the Left knee, back of the Left knee, the Left calf, the Left shin, the Left heel, the Left sole, the top of the Left foot, the Left toes, top of the head, the forehead, the eyebrows, the eyelids, the cheeks, the nose, the ears, the lips, the chin, the neck, down the whole spine, the breath in, and out, in and out to a calm, tranquil, relaxing, safe and happy place that your mind can find for you, maybe real, maybe imaginary….