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Relaxation Advice Sheet

Patient Information Leaflet produced by the Physiotherapy Service Specialist Services Unit ( Cambridgeshire)

Providing a lifetime of care

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust: providing services across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Luton and Suffolk

Relaxation is a useful technique for everyone to learn, as it helps us to cope more efficiently in everyday life. It does not require strenuous exercise or drugs and their side effects. It just needs a little time each day for regular practice, in order to understand the basic principles of letting go and allowing the body to function as efficiently as possible. The benefits can help all ages from children to the elderly and their carers.

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Relaxation can help:

To relieve aches and pains caused by muscle tension To relieve the symptoms of disease. To raise the threshold of pain tolerance. To improve physical performance. To enrich personal relationships and reduce stress levels between people. To lower excessive anxiety levels.

A certain amount of tension in our muscles is essential to maintain our posture and a degree of stress is necessary to help us function efficiently, but it is important to recognise excessive fatigue, pain and stress levels and to try to reduce them. There are many different ways to relax so try them all and see which suits you best.

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Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are very important, as we all tend to over-breathe or hyperventilate under stress. The normal breathing pattern should be gentle, silent diaphragmatic or tummy breathing with very little upper chest movement. The rate should be about 10 - 12 breaths a minute at rest. If your breathing is noisy; comes mainly from the upper chest, at a rate of more than 15 breaths a minute and you tend to sigh frequently, then you may be over-breathing. Become aware of your breathing by placing one hand on your upper chest and one on your tummy. Let your upper chest relax down, and with the next breath allow your tummy to swell forwards as you breathe in, and fall back gently as you breathe out. Try to get a steady rhythm going, taking the same depth of breath each time. Next, try to slow your breathing rate down by putting in a short pause after you have breathed out and before you breath in again. At first, you may feel you are not getting enough air in but with regular practice this slower rate will soon feel comfortable. Breathing is something you do all the time so check that you have got it right in all positions whether lying, sitting or standing. On exercise there will be a natural increase in your breathing rate, but check afterwards to make sure that you go back to the slow steady rhythm. Try to talk slowly, not to say too much with one breath and pause to take a gentle breath in, from your tummy, before carrying on.

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Relaxation of the muscles

Can be achieved by several different methods. Contrast relaxation: Tighten up a group of muscles as much as possible, then relax them completely and feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Start at your feet and work all the way up your body till you reach your face, tighten each set of muscles in turn and try to let all the tension go out of them. Physiological relaxation: Loosen tight clothing then lie or sit comfortably so that you are fully supported. Close your eyes and without moving, try to concentrate on each muscle group in turn and let them relax as much as possible, starting at your feet and working up to your head and face. Spend 2 minutes thinking of your breathing and letting your whole body relax a little more with each breath out, then repeat the sequence 2 or 3 times more, so that the session lasts about 15 minutes. When you move, get up slowly and try to keep this relaxed calm feeling going for as long as possible. Visual relaxation: While relaxed with your eyes closed try to visualise a pleasant scene such as a beach or a garden where you can feel comfortably warm and relaxed. Try to concentrate on things that will make you feel calm and peaceful.

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A relaxation CD/cassette can be useful. Practice is essential, so concentrate on your breathing several times a day and correct it as necessary; and relax for 20 minutes twice a day. It takes several weeks to break the habits of many years, so do not expect quick results from these exercises. Be patient, practice often, and the end result can be very rewarding. Exercise: Exercise can help get rid of unwanted energy and help keep us fit.

Adjustment of lifestyle
Slow down: set yourself lower and more realistic standards, and reserve some of your energy. Put less energy into your chores, give yourself short breaks between activities, to let go of unnecessary tension and allow yourself to breath slowly and gently. Dont feel guilty about giving yourself more time and consideration, because if you feel better you will cope more efficiently with the important items in life. Try: listening to quiet and gentle music. Take up a new hobby: or go out and meet people with similar interests. This will help to get your mind off your problems. Above all be positive: concentrate on what you can do and dont waste time on negative thoughts.

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For further information about this service contact: For Huntingdon and Cambridge City and South areas If you are unsure about any of the advice in this leaflet or if you require further advice from a Chartered Physiotherapist, please contact your local self referral service on: Huntingdon - 8.15am - 12.15pm

01480 434980
Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire - 1pm - 5pm

01223 446999
For East Cambs and Fenland area Self referral is not currently available, please contact your local Physiotherapy Department if you are unsure about any of the advice: Physiotherapy Department, Princess of Wales Hospital, Lynn Road, Ely, Cambs, CB6 1DN - Tel: 01353 652046 Physiotherapy Department, Doddington Hospital, Benwick Road, Doddington, Cambs, PE15 0UG - Tel: 01354 644213 Physiotherapy Department, North Cambs Hospital, The Park, Wisbech, Cambs, PE13 3AB - Tel: 01945 488062 For Peterborough area Self referral is not currently available, please contact your local MSK Physiotherapy Department if you are unsure about any of the advice: City Health Clinic, Wellington Street, Peterborough, PE1 5DU Tel: 01733 466671
Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust Tel: 01480 355184 / 308216 Email: ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Website: www.cambscommunityservices.nhs.uk Code: AS/PD/LFT/0269 - V1.4 (Oct 2012) Date of Production: November 2010 Date of Review: November 2013

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If you have any concerns about this service or suggestions for improvements, contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on Freephone 0800 013 2511 or email: ccs-tr.pals@nhs.net For free, confidential health advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or via www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk If you need this information in a different format such as in large print or on audio tape, or in a different language please contact Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust Communications Team on 01480 308216 or via email at: ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Polish: Jeeli potrzebujesz tych informacji w innym formacie, jak na przykad w duej czcionce, w formacie audio lub w innym jzyku, prosimy o kontakt z Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (Publiczny Zesp Opieki Zdrowotnej i rodowiskowej) pod numerem telefonu: 01480 308216 lub email na adres: ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Portuguese: Se precisar desta informao em formato diferente, tal como impresso em letra grande, cassete udio ou noutra lngua, por favor contacte o Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (Trust NHS dos Servios Comunitrios de Cambridgeshire), atravs do telefone 01480 308216, ou envie um e-mail para: ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Russian: , , , 01480 308216 no ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Cantonese: Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust01480 308216 ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk Bengali

Turkish: Eer bu bilgininin kendi dilinizde evirisini (ya da daha byk harflerle basksn veya kasete kaytl halini) isterseniz, ltfen Cambridge Blgesi Kamu Hizmetleri Ulusal Salk Hizmeti Birimini (Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust) 01480 308216 nolu telefon numarasndan arayn veya ccscommunications@ccs.nhs.uk adresine e-mail gnderin.