We all know we’re supposed to do some sort of relaxation techniques to feel less stressed. But there are downsides to relaxation techniques, and these downsides, whether we know it or not, can make us procrastinate! Here are the 3 biggest issues I have with relaxation techniques and how to solve them. Boom. Let’s jump in…
Problem 1: The positive effects don’t last.
This is a big one. If I’m going to invest time and energy each day in actively relaxing, then I want to know I’ll feel better when I stop! Before I share how to get the results to stick, I’ll explain what a relaxed state is.
Relaxation is a low-energy state in which the body and mind are both at rest, with mental and emotional processes normally disengaged (ie. you’re told to focus on your breath and essentially aim not to think or feel. “Just relax” is akin to stop thinking, stop feeling, stop everything and just “huuuuu” out).
The problem is that it doesn’t stick! While relaxation is akin to “tapping out” to regenerate. This regeneration doesn’t do much, and when you jump back into the stress of everyday life you’re back where you started with no real advantage.
Our approach, on the other hand, is about actively engaging good feelings. Our approach is about using the time you would spend on relaxation techniques actually investing in creating a more organised heart rhythm. This makes you feel peaceful & balanced and yet energetic & responsive. This psychological state is favourable to everyday functioning and interaction, including tasks that require mental acuity, attention, problem-solving, and decision-making, as well as physical activity and coordination. We use breathing and inducing a positive feeling state, to increase the body’s natural coordination (called heart coherence). This increased coherence makes the flow of energy more effortless in the body and thus, leads to better bodily functioning.
So, to get the results to stick, practice a heart coherence technique instead of a relaxation technique.
Problem 2: It’s hard work to focus and breathe.
Mentally-directed breathing to relax is hard work and is difficult, if not impossible, to sustain.
You may not know that breathing patterns naturally alter the heart’s beat, so merely breathing more slowly and consistently at a 10-second rhythm (5 seconds on the in-breath and 5 seconds on the out-breath) can produce a more organised heart rhythm.
Breathing regularly in this manner can thus be a helpful technique for transitioning from a difficult emotional state to one of improved coherence. This is something we all naturally do, or we’ve learnt to do, to calm ourselves down if we get worked up.
And there are whole relaxation techniques centred around breathwork and using the breath to meditate, be mindful or relax. The issue, however, is that its hard work to sustain breathing this way. It takes concentration.
There is an alternative. While breathing is a component of our approach, it is not the main emphasis and shouldn’t be thought of as “breathing exercises”. The focus of our approach is to tap into the body’s natural ability to feel good, through re-experiencing a positive feeling of love, joy, peace, appreciation, gratitude. Any pleasant emotional state. This distinguishes it from most breathing techniques that are more mechanical and sustained by willpower alone.
The success of our approach is dependent on harnessing positive emotions. They do the heavy lifting by stimulating an organised heart rhythm to be produced. This is then maintained spontaneously by the body, without the need for conscious mental attention to one’s breathing pattern.
Problem 3: It’s like bandaid.
It doesn’t solve the root issue or pain.
Above we talked about how the positive effects don’t last. Now, I’ll tell you why. The reason the relaxation doesn’t last into your actual life is that it’s not addressing the root cause of the stress, issue or pain. And I’m not about to go back into your childhood. Something in your world caused you to get off-balance, so you need a process to help your body self-regulate back to balance or homeostasis. To do this, you need more than breathing.
Our approach of harnessing the power of your heart gives a considerably broader range of advantages than those normally obtained from relaxation or breathing alone. Deeper perceptual and emotional changes, enhanced access to intuition and creativity, improved cognition and performance, and favourable hormonal balance are just a few of them.
When you self-regulate using our heart coherence approach, you’re taking care of yourself in ways that may not be immediately apparent. The advantages of heart coherence are vast and varied, and science backs them up. Many individuals begin using our approach to manage stress, anxiety and fear. Research shows that other, lesser-known heart coherence advantages include improved mental, physical, and emotional health. Clients notice they feel better in their bodies—mentally, emotionally and physically—as they practice our techniques to help them achieve consistent heart coherence.
We hope you ditch regular relaxation techniques if they’re not working for you, and swap to a heart coherence approach instead to feel better, and operate better everyday.