Relaxation and MS
Tips for relaxing with Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain and chronic illness.
In my seven year journey with Multiple Sclerosis I have found one of the most useful tools in managing symptoms is relaxation.
Regular relaxation reduces the stress of having a chronic condition as well as helping to reduce other symptoms, such tremors, pain, cognitive dysfunction and fatigue.
Guided relaxation can be a general, whole system relaxation or specifically targeted to a particular symptom. These more specific relaxations will still relax your whole system, while targeting areas of the body or function that need to be addressed.
An easy relaxation to begin is the simple Contract and release relaxation. This is a relaxation I have used a lot, particularly while I was in a wheelchair. It meant wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I could relax in about ten minutes, sometimes even quicker.
Quick and easy Contract and release relaxation
Relaxation is said to be deeper when it is done lying down on your back, however I have found that sometimes I have been unable to lie down by myself, find it difficult or impossible to get back up or am in public when I need to relax.
- If you want to, lie down on your back with support under your knees and your lower back, sometimes a rolled towel between your shoulders is comfortable too; make sure your neck is supported.
- You can also lie on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- You can also relax in a chair; if your feet are up, ensure the backs of your legs are relaxed or if they are down, uncross your ankles and endure your feet are supported.
Another factor in relaxation is body temperature. Your body will cool significantly, particularly in a lie-down relaxation so make sure you have a light blanket to cover yourself, even if you just have it beside you so you can quickly put it on if you get cold.
Steps to relaxation
Part one – relaxing the body
- Get comfortable
- Gently allow your eyes to close
- Give yourself permission to spend the next few moments letting go
- Contract the muscles in your feet as you breathe in and let them relax as you breathe out
- You can repeat this if you would like
- Breathe in and contract the muscles in your thighs, breathe and relax
- As you breathe in, contract the muscles in your buttocks and pelvic floor and as you breathe out let them go
- Breathing in, gently press your abdomen and lower back into the floor or the back of your chair; breathing out and letting go
- As you breathe allow your whole chest to expand and breathe out, relax
- Gently press you upper back into the floor as you breathe in and let it relax as you breathe out
- Breathe in and contract all the muscles in your arms, breathe out and let go
- Draw your shoulders towards your ears and relax; notice what it feels like to have soft muscles at the base of your neck
- Srunchle the muscles of your face and your scalp then relax with your breath
- This is enough for a quick body awareness and relaxation or you can go on to parts two and three, or skip to part three
Part two – soothing
- Imagine a soothing warmth moving into your body as you breathe, beginning with your feet
- Your in-breath draws the warmth into your body and the out-breath allows the warmth to settle and dissolves any tension in that area
- Use the rhythm of your breath to carry the warmth through your body, like soothing waves of healing
- When the full arrives at crown, allow yourself to rest in this warm, stillness for as long as is comfortable
Part three –waking up
- When you are ready to come out of the relaxation, imagine a brilliant light at the crown of your head
- Imagine the light pouring into body, bringing renewed vitality and clarity from your crown to your toes, filling your body with radiance
- Begin to breathe more deeply, feel the clothes on your skin and gently move your toes and fingers
- Allow the movement to gently expand through your limbs, into a full body stretch.
- Take a few moments before returning to your life, either rolling onto your side or sitting quietly in your chair, and thank yourself for giving yourself this time to relax.
I hope you enjoy relaxing!
I would love to hear how you go so if you have any questions or would just like to share your experiences, please make contact.