Scientists have long agreed that targeted relaxation phases increase performance. Here you can find out how you can relax and why you become more efficient as a result.
In many minds the prevailing opinion is that only lazy people sleep in, indulge themselves regularly and consequently do nothing of value. It often just seems to count how much someone has worked, not how efficiently.
But relaxation phases are of great importance for your regeneration and performance. Your Start of the week already starts with the upcoming tasks rolling over you? Anyone who is constantly in the hustle, electrified and under a lot of stress will sooner or later feel the negative effects. Relaxation phases are important for your physical and mental health. For example, an optimal one for you can already be morning routine cause you to get through the day more relaxed.
Relaxation techniques: How does your body react to relaxation?
The designation Relaxation is no accident. An obvious feature of relaxation is that the tension in the muscles decreases. In addition, the blood vessels widen, the blood flow is distributed more evenly throughout the body, the heart rate and blood pressure drop.
Overall, the body uses less energy and less oxygen. However, this does not apply to every organ individually. In the recovery phases, for example, the intestine really starts to work. Wounds also heal better when they are relaxed. In deep sleep, fat breakdown and cell renewal are also stimulated.
How does relaxation affect your brain?
Contrary to what you might think, the brain doesn't relax by simply shutting down its activity completely. The brain consumes even more energy when it is at rest than already. There is even a special region in the brain that only becomes active during a recovery phase. Scientists call this region the default mode network.
The default mode network is still active even during sleep and under anesthesia. Researchers suspect that it plays an important role in higher cognitive processes.1 You are of the opinion that the deactivation of the default mode network is necessary so that intensive thought processes can take place at all. Scientists also consider involvement of the default mode network in processes such as remembering, imagining the future, or wandering around.2
In addition, they have a well-founded suspicion that psychoses can arise when the balance between the default mode network and certain other brain regions is disturbed. Other researchers found that Alzheimer's patients had changes in the default mode network.3 These studies clearly show how important this network and thus relaxation phases must be.
In summary, relaxation affects the body and brain out:
- Tension in the muscles decreases
- Blood vessels widen
- more even blood circulation
- Heart rate and blood pressure drop
- Body uses less energy and oxygen
- improved wound healing
- Stimulation of fat breakdown and cell renewal during deep sleep
- The brain region "default mode network" becomes active
Why can relaxation techniques increase your performance?
Your body and brain simply only function optimally when the balance between activity and relaxation is right. If you do not relax enough, you will run on the back burner and you will not be able to perform at your best.
It is more efficient if you get enough sleep and take breaks to relax in between. Then you lose time at first, but you can easily get it out again because your increase productivity becomes. The bottom line is that you will even gain time, even if many people still seem to find this contradictory despite the clear study situation. Of course, this also includes a good one Time management. Ultimately, the decisive factor is not how long you do something, but what comes out of it.
The effect of recognized relaxation techniques has been scientifically proven. With most relaxation techniques, regular exercise ensures that relaxation begins faster and has a more intense effect. You can even train it so far that you can use the technique in acute stressful situations and immediately feel a relaxing effect.
You have to decide for yourself which technique is the best. Often, general measures to improve sleep or regular exercise also help.
Relaxation techniques: why is sleep so important?
A restful sleep of sufficient length is necessary for good regeneration. Only when the body and the brain can recover are they able to perform at their best. During sleep, the muscles loosen up and can then grow. Stress hormones are broken down and the immune system is strengthened. The brain processes events and new things learned from the day and stores them in long-term memory.
The phases of deep sleep are crucial in order to achieve full regeneration. Therefore, the quality of sleep is particularly important and only after a certain amount of sleep can you get enough deep sleep. Relaxation techniques can help optimize the quality of sleep.
In any case, it is worth doing everything for a really good night's sleep. If you don't sleep well, you can Stress from the day not break down. If sleep remains poor for a long period of time, in addition to poor performance, there is a risk of developing serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease.
Helpful tips for a good night's sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips:
- Darken the bedroom as well as possible
- ensure a pleasant temperature of approx. 18 ° C in the bedroom
- If possible, adapt the mattress, pillow and duvet to your own body type and individual sleeping habits
- Bedtime routine, preferably always at the same time
- take the last meal a few hours before bed, ideally light food
- Find time to relax before going to bed (no more exertion for at least two hours beforehand)
- Stop looking at a screen for at least an hour before you go to sleep
- Try relaxation techniques immediately before going to sleep (e.g. breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, breathe out for 8 seconds, repeat 4 times)
Relaxation techniques: how does exercise help?
With sport you can not only reduce acute stress, but also intensify physical and mental recovery.4 In addition, with exercise you prevent cardiovascular diseases, improve your immune system and strengthen your psyche. All of this increases your ability to regenerate and the healthier your body and mind are, the more resilient you are.
Which relaxation techniques are suitable at work?
There are a few simple relaxation exercises that you can easily apply at work. Sometimes it helps to breathe deeply into your stomach a few times. Every job should have the opportunity to do this. Several short breaks can increase your productivity.
To do this, close your eyes or let your gaze wander into the distance. If you want it to be a bit more conspicuous, you can always stretch yourself properly from time to time or get up and take a short walk. It is most effective if you can also insert a small power nap.
Relaxation techniques: does power napping make sense?
Power napping is ideal in the office, so that you can recharge your energy storage device and become more efficient again. A short sleep of 15 to 20 minutes is enough to increase your performance.
It is often claimed that power napping shouldn't take longer to avoid falling into a deep sleep phase. Because if you are woken up while you are deep asleep, you feel sleepy and limp. However, an overview study came to the result that after overcoming this drowsiness, the increased cognitive performance continues for an even longer time than with short power napping of 20 minutes.5
Relaxation Techniques: What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
With progressive muscle relaxation, you tense muscle groups one after the other in a certain order and then relax them again immediately. It is important to concentrate on the perception of tension and relaxation and to consciously feel how both states feel.
This should intensify your body awareness, so that you can exercise after a while Detect tension and relax your muscles in a targeted manner at any time. The relaxation should not be limited to your muscles, but should also provide mental relaxation.
The American doctor Edmund Jacobson realized that there was one Relationship between muscle tension and stress gives. Therefore he tried to create an inner balance by relaxing the muscles and developed the progressive muscle relaxation.
Jacobson started his relaxation technique in great detail with 30 muscle groups. There are now shortened descendants of this technique that target fewer muscle groups. Yet they are proven to be successful. The stress not only decreases perceived, but there is also measurably less of the stress hormone cortisol released.6
How does progressive muscle relaxation work?
You can Exercises lying down or sitting carry out. To get started, it is recommended about 30 minutes a day to practice in a pleasant atmosphere. Comfortable clothes and relaxing music can have a supportive effect.
If you have circulatory problems or mental illnesses, it is advisable to have a doctor confirm beforehand whether progressive muscle relaxation is suitable for you.
How to start with progressive muscle relaxation:
- close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
- contract the muscles of your dominant hand and forearm by clenching your fist
- hold the tension for 10 seconds and feel how it feels
- the next time you exhale, relax your hand and forearm muscles
- During the relaxation and for about 45 seconds afterwards, consciously feel how the relaxation feels
- repeat the tension, relaxation and feeling for the same muscle group until you notice the relaxation clearly
Do this exercise with other muscle groups in the following order:
- Hand and forearm muscles of the other arm
- Upper arm muscles of the dominant arm (tension of the biceps)
- Upper arm muscles of the other arm
Next is the face, which can be divided into three muscle groups. You can reach them as follows:
- Raising the eyebrows
- Squinting of eyes
- Clench your teeth and press your tongue against your upper palate
Then you switch to the core muscles:
- Pull your chin towards your chest
- Squeeze shoulder blades together
- Pull in belly
Finally, it is the turn of the muscle groups of the legs:
- Thigh muscles
- Pull toes towards you
- Bend toes
Start with the dominant leg and continue with the other leg.
The tension just has to be so strong that you can clearly feel it. Avoid cramping the muscles and only contract the muscle group that is currently in turn. During the exercise, pay attention to calm breathing in your own rhythm.
After the exercises, you can either fall asleep relaxed straight away or you can prepare yourself to become active again. To do this, you stretch yourself extensively and take a few deep breaths in and out. Then you open your eyes.
When does progressive muscle relaxation help you?
You can learn progressive muscle relaxation quite easily and incorporate it into everyday life. You will notice a feeling of relaxation the first time you use it. The more practice you have, the better you can take advantage of progressive muscle relaxation at work and in pretty much any other stressful situation.
After a while, your brain will combine the exercises you have learned with full-body relaxation. It then relaxes simply by repeating part of the exercise briefly. You will be able to deal with pressure more easily, feel less stressed and ultimately be more efficient in everything.
Relaxation Techniques: What Is Autogenic Training?
Autogenic training is based on autosuggestion. In autogenic training it is important to empathize with your body and to be able to consciously perceive individual elements. This requires a little more practice. You only achieve relaxation through mental strength.
How does autogenic training work?
For example, you say a mantra to yourself several times in your mind: "My legs are pleasantly warm" until you actually feel warmth in your legs. Because warmth is created by increased blood flow to the skin and that in turn is a sign of relaxation.
In addition, by letting go of the breathing, calming is achieved and it is also possible to slow down the heartbeat and thus find peace. Courses, books or CDs are highly recommended for detailed instructions on how to learn autogenic training.
To make it easier to get started with autogenic training, you can begin with part of the progressive muscle relaxation. Learning autogenic training is easier to lie on your back. You should take 15 minutes to do this. If you have to go fast, you can only do a few selected exercises in less time. Later you can use autogenic training while sitting or even, in short, while standing, if you want to calm yourself down acutely.
What does autogenic training do?
Scientific studies have shown that autogenic training can relieve stress and reduce blood pressure and heart rate.7 It also appears to be relieving headaches.8
Other scientists found a connection between autogenic training and improved performance. Accordingly, autogenic training should help to better cope with mentally difficult sporting challenges and then to intensify the recovery phase.9
Relaxation Techniques: What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
A special meditation technique is mindfulness mediation. It is not about directing the thoughts in a particular direction, but only observing them and consciously perceiving them.
One study found that mindfulness meditation can improve the sense of time and change the perception of time.10 So time can seem longer through mindfulness meditation. This could have a positive effect on your time management and thus reduce your stress level.
Yoga as part of relaxation techniques
The philosophical teaching from India is for theirs relaxing and concentration-enhancing effect known. Modern yoga, as it is known in the western world, is very different from traditional Indian yoga. However, modern yoga also has one healthy influence on our body and mind.
So studies concluded that yoga is conducive to mental health and increases cognitive abilities.11 Therefore, the costs for recognized yoga courses are covered by the health insurance.
Relaxation Techniques: What is Floating?
With floating you relax in one of the outside world Completely sealed chamber filled with salt water. The salt water is so concentrated that you float on the surface of the water without coming into contact with the chamber.
Neither light nor sound penetrate the chamber from outside. The The water temperature is chosen so that you feel neither cold nor warm. Because in the floating chamber you should concentrate completely on yourself and your body and in this way relax physically and mentally.
What is floating about?
This is what floating should do:12
- Reduce stress
- Relieve Depression
- Decrease anxiety
- reduce pain
- Promote optimistic attitude
- Improve sleep quality
- Increase mindfulness
You can now find floating providers in many large cities. Unfortunately, you can't just do floating at home. According to scientists, however, it should be even more effective than relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation.12
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