Other techniques

Having a way to properly help you relax and reduce stress outside of the coaching techniques will be very helpful. The relaxing brings your system back into balance by deepening your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and relaxing your muscles. Research has also shown that the relaxation response increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts productivity.

I personally use meditation as well as use the Neural Reprogramming Process Guided Visualization from the Why You Want What You Want section (section five), but there are many ways to help you disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with your internal self and relax so you can be more present with the moment you are in. I often find that when I take a moment to quiet my mind and my body, I seem to allow internal wisdom to help me with whatever problems I might be experiencing. Just know that the goal with any of the techniques I suggest here is to simply remove thought for a few moments to reconnect and relax. Remember, it is not the outside world or outside events that are causing you stress, it is your thought and interpretation about those events. When you eliminate thought for even a moment, you allow your higher centers to help guide you as well as slowing yourself down to avoid making rash decisions that your stress might have led you to.

I suggest taking at least ten to fifteen minutes each day for time by yourself-time to relax and let go of your thoughts. You can extend this to as long as you like and as often as you like. Or course, you can always use the guided visualization audio tracks I included for you in section five to stand as your meditation. As I just mentioned above, you can also use these techniques when you in moments of stress and need to center yourself. For example, within the guided visualization you create emotional and physiological cues that you can recall anytime, which by replicating puts you into the same state of success.

Below are a few examples of some techniques you can use for stress release and relaxation, but there are thousands of ways to accomplish this same thing. If these don't appeal to you I suggest you go online and find one that suits you the best.

As you try to reduce your random thoughts with any of these techniques, you may find your thinking mind creeping in often. It is a hard thing to shut off, which is simply why these techniques are mostly guiding you to shift or direct your point of focus in other areas. If you notice your thoughts creeping in, simply acknowledge that you are thinking and let it go, then direct your attention back to your intended point of focus. If you find that you are repeatedly thinking about the same thing, then this might be something that needs your attention and can be your point of focus during a self-coaching session.

Finally, there are times that I use my meditation time to go through the entire coaching process as long as I have the time to come to a conclusion. This process usually takes me about thirty minutes to go through in its entirety.

Below are links to various stress reducing techniques

Deep Breathing Techniques

Deep breathing can be done by just taking a couple of deep breaths when you are stressed or can be part of an entire meditation practice. The goal of doing any deep breathing technique is to use your breath to relax. When you are stressed your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Deep breathing will slow both of those down, thus counteracting the physical reactions to stress and inducing a relaxed sensation.

To do deep breathing you simply want to breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose while drawing from the diaphragm and stomach, which should cause your stomach to rise. This breath could take up to thirty seconds (or even a minute if you practice long enough--on average my entire breath takes about twenty seconds). You then simply breathe out slowly through your mouth. Having your lips close together (making a small hole) allows a bit of resistance to happen with the outgoing breath that not only slows down your exhale but also creates a slight noise that gives you something else to focus on. This exhale can also take up to thirty seconds.

Counting your breath is also a great way to increase your point of focus. I sometimes will count my breath knowing how long I want to be in meditation. For example, if I want to do fifteen minutes of meditation I will count my breath (inhale and exhale together) thirty times as each breath takes me about thirty seconds. You can count the inhale and exhale separately if you want--there is no right or wrong way to do it.

There is a breathing technique that Dr. Weil, an author and physician who established and popularized the field of integrative medicine and specializes in natural health and wellness, offers called the 4-7-8 exercise. As with any breathing technique or meditation it is best to do so while sitting upright in a comfortable position with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind you front teeth and keep it there through the entire breathing exercise. Begin by exhaling completely through your mouth, pushing the breath around your tongue and making a "whoosh" sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven and then exhale completely through your mouth making the "whoosh" sound to a count of eight. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

It is not recommended to do this breathing technique more than four times at once for the first month. You can, after the first month, increase it up to eight breaths. You can do this as many times a day as you want, but you are encouraged to do it at least once a day. Also note that you do not have to do this ratio of 4:7:8 for seconds. Simply make sure that your exhale is twice as long as your inhale and your hold is just shorter than your exhale. If you cannot hold your breath for the seven count, speed up the other parts according to their ratio.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. With regular practice, PMR gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension--as well as complete relaxation--feels like in different parts of your body. This type of awareness helps you identify and respond to the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. You will notice that as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can add this technique with another, like deep breathing, for an additional level of stress relief. We are going to start our focus at the bottom and work our way up, which is the way most people do PMR, but there are other variations and other orders.

Sit in an upright and relaxed position. Take a few slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Try to breathe in using your belly rather than your chest--your belly should raise on inhalation. Once you feel relaxed, focus on your right foot. Notice how your foot feels without moving--notice its physicality and presence. Then contract your foot for about ten seconds. Once you have reached ten seconds, relax your foot completely. It is best to do the contraction on your inhale so that when you relax you can do it on your exhale. Exhale slowly and notice how relaxed your foot feels. Focus on this sensation for another full breath or so. Then focus on your right calf and do the same thing. Follow this with your right thigh. Once you done with your right thigh then contract your entire leg and foot. Once done with that, follow the same sequence for the left side.

Follow the rest of the muscle in the same way. Hips and buttocks, stomach/abdominals, chest, back (lower and upper--can do these separately as well), upper shoulders, then the entire torso area. Follow with the right hand, forearm, upper arm, then the whole arm, and follow that with the left arm. You will finish with the neck and face, then both together.

Remember, the benefit of this is feeling the deep relaxation after tension, so stay with the relaxed sensation for each body part for at least one full breath. After you have completed the whole body, take a moment to notice how the entire body feels in this relaxed state. If you are limited in time you can exclude the entire leg, body, and arm contractions. Also, if you do exclude those full part contractions, you can try going from side to side as an alternative.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is a variation of traditional meditation that uses guided imagery that can be done on your own, with a therapist's help, or using an audio recording. Using guided imagery, or visualization, you imagine a scene that brings you peace, whether it is a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet wooded glen. It works by picturing as vividly as you can everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel in regard to what you are focusing on. If you don't have someone to guide you through this, then you can either choose to create your own based on a memory or find a recording of guided imagery that appeals to you. Guided meditation can be done sitting upright in a comfortable and quiet place or lying on your back. Again, the guided visualization tracks in section five are perfect for this.

One of the things I like to do when I do this for myself is to imagine I am lying on my back on a beach right by the water. I imagine what the sun and clouds look like, notice the slight breeze, hear any of the local wildlife and the water crashing, feel the warm sun and breeze on my skin, and taste the saltiness in the air. Each one of these focuses on one of your five senses. You can spend a few minutes focusing on each aspect, each sense. Another thing I like to do is imagine I am lying right at the water's edge and the warm ocean water rolls up on my body during each breath. As I breathe in the water flows around my body and stays there for brief moment or two while I hold my inhale. Upon exhalation the water returns back to the ocean. I also imagine the sounds and smells with this, but the great benefit with this is tying it in with my breath.

Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation is simply being fully present in the moment you are in. Sitting upright or lying down in a quiet place, focus on your breath for few moments. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while breathing with your belly. During mindful meditation you can focus on anything in your experience. You can focus on what you hear--maybe a white noise in background or nature outside your window. You can focus on a smell, if there is one. You can focus on what your body is doing or how you are breathing. Focusing on your breath is easy to do because it is rhythmic. So is your heart--you can focus on your heart beat.

One thing I really enjoy doing is focusing on each body part and feeling the physicality of it. I can feel the subtle energy and life force behind each part of my body. I can actually make each part of my body tingle--kind of like the butterfly feeling you get in your stomach but in each body part I focus on. To take that one step further, I can actually move this energy all around my body. If you never done this before I would suggest starting by focusing on your right foot first--just like you did with PMR. Focus on how it feels just sitting there with no movement. You should be able to feel its presence. You should be able to notice a feeling of your foot within your skin. Spend a couple breaths feeling this part of your body. Before moving on to another body part you can try increasing the sensation at your foot--making it tingle. You can then either switch to the other foot or move right up the leg. I prefer to follow the sequence I laid out in Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).

bottom curve