By Geraldine M
Monday 8th February 2016 is the day many people will be saying ‟Gong xi fa cai” (pronounced, roughly, ‟gong she fars eye”) – the Chinese greeting for ‟Happy New Year” – meaning ‟Be happy, get rich”.
…to which the response is often ‟Hong bao na lai” (‟hong bow na lie”) which means ‟Where’s my red envelope?” since a red envelope with money inside is a traditional new year gift to younger family members.
(Chinese New Year in Leeds)
If you were born in 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980 or 1992 then like this year your may have been born in the year of the Monkey. The Chinese zodiac suggests people born in a year of the Monkey are witty, intelligent, and very naughty! Their active lifestyles keep them healthy on the whole but they often spend more time at work, possibly getting richer but no happier as this leaves monkeys susceptible to stress.
Like the rest of us monkeys need to remember to take breaks during their busy schedules but it can be hard to find the time so consider taking just one minute to try a relaxation technique.
In one minute:
Place your hand just beneath your belly button so you can feel a gentle rise and fall as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
In two minutes
Count down slowly from 10 to 0. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply, saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine”, and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
In three minutes
While sitting, take a break from whatever you’re doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.
(Picture of calm monkey possible after practicising relaxation)
If you would like to know more about managing stress or other common mental health problems the IAPT service is offering Stress Control Classes, Mindfulness webinars and internet based therapy alongside our range of treatments. We also have a selection of Chinese language materials and can provide translators for our treatment sessions.
(Relaxation techniques described are endorsed by the Harvard Medical School)