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Relaxation is Important

by Patty Fleener M.S.W.


These are skills that do not always come naturally and if we have forgotten them, we need to re-acquire them.

This page is dedicated to stress-reduction. It is about learning to have fun and relax. Many of us keep ourselves very busy just getting through our constant dysphoria. We are not only busy people in that aspect but many of us have forgotten how to have fun and relax when we are able to. This is vital to our recovery and helps to fill our cup. We deserve this, need this and with practice, we can call upon these skills when needed.

Let's work on this now...

Here is my list:

1) Make sure you are taking all the medications at the correct times prescribed by your physician.

2) Did you learn Lamaze before giving birth to a child? Part of the Lamaze program is learning how to do slow deep breathing. Count to ten slowly while are slowly breathing air in (mouth closed, chest raising with air inhaled). Hold for a second or two and slowly breathe out to the count of ten at the same rate (mouth open, chest falling). It is helpful to do this while your eyes are closed and to imagine a safe place, a relaxing place. Imagine you are there. Feel how wonderful you feel. Feel the air, the sun on your back...This is called visualization and it can be very relaxing.

3) Learn to pamper yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. Take a hot bath with the lights off, candles lit and soft music playing. Put perfumed oil in the tub. Perhaps afterwards you might want to air dry or splash on some cologne. Order dinner and have it delivered and serve it on beautiful china. Set a place for yourself at the table. Go clothes shopping if you are feeling good about your body or shop for something that would entertain you. Rent a movie, stress-free one that is. Call your best friend and talk about other things in life besides your illness. Discuss cooking, how lovely your flowers are coming up, etc. Listen, really listen to the other person. This will help you "stay outside of yourself." Make these kinds of things a habit and do them as often as you can. Schedule them into your life and let everyone know that this time is for you and that it needs to be protected. Set boundaries with people by taking care of your self. 

4) John Bradshaw was right. There IS a little child within each and every one of us. If we were abused or neglected as a child, we many not have been able to express this child and do things children do, feel things children feel. When is the last time you swung in a swing, or took your shoes off in the sand and wriggled your toes? What about the taste of a cherry tootsie roll pop on your tongue? Are you a chewer or a sucker? When's the last time you got out bowling or roller skating? How bout you get yourself fixed up and take yourself or your family out for dinner? Are you pressed for money? How bout a nice candle at dinner? Do you sing with your children or sing alone in the car or the shower? Do you remember any of the words?

5) Life is right NOW. Life will not begin when we recover or when we begin to recover, or when we get out of the bad relationship, or out of our dysphoria even. Life just goes on by around us. I remember when I raised my daughter, I wanted to stop time until I could feel better and THEN raise her. Not so, I'm afraid.

You are probably already asking "So HOW do we learn to relax and have fun when we are so depressed, when our families have abandoned us, when we can't seem to stop raging and let go of our anger?" I wish I was the "Shell Answer Man" with this question because NOBODY knows our pain like we do, am I right??

Well, let's see here...what do I do?? I do probably as good or worse than you do. However I have this website to remind you which reminds me what I need to focus on, to work on, what I need to accept, etc. I have to think about it before I write about it and I may as well take my own medicine.

I encourage you to read Happiness Is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman. We need to completely re-focus our thinking.

During those depressing days I either try to take myself away by watching a movie if I am able to concentrate or I let myself have the depression. I tell myself it is ok and there is no reason to feel guilty. I don't know why we feel guilt for feeling depressed, at least I do. I especially pamper myself at this time. I may eat something I especially like for example.

Accepting our illness means accepting being in the hospital, taking medications that make us fat, screaming at our families and apologizing later, feeling dysphoric and each and every time these things happen we need to accept this as part of our lives and quit fighting it. Just do the best you can. Everything I just mention is ok because we are doing the best we can and we know it.

I am of course not talking about acceptance to the point that we refuse things that are good for us such as certain medications, cognitive therapy, etc.

Think about it. You have fought so hard and so long just to feel normal and to not feel tremendous screaming psychic pain. Can you imagine the coping skills you have developed? Ok, so some of your skills may not be healthy but many parts of us have grown stronger. I almost giggle sometimes when others discuss their "bad" days. Give yourself some credit and pat your self on the back constantly. Don't wait for others to do it. 

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