By now most of your body should be far more relaxed. But if you’ve been concentrating hard, your face is probably very tense and, apart from being a waste of energy, that’s also the quickest way to get wrinkles. So relax it quickly. I should warn you that relaxing all the muscles in your face is going to make you look really gormless. So here goes! Imagine that you’ve got a slice of lemon in your mouth and it’s extremely sour. Squeeze the whole of your face against it, mouth, nose, eyes and cheeks. Blow out one small candle and let your face sag, so that your mouth falls open, the flesh sags off your cheekbones, and your eyelids feel heavy and close of their own accord.

Check for the last time that you are relaxed everywhere. Then lie peacefully where you are for a little while. Most people feel rather sleepy when they’re as relaxed as you are now. Some actually fall asleep. Relaxation is a good cure for insomnia.

Enjoy your rest. But be warned. Take your time about getting up again after relaxation like this. On no account jump up suddenly or you will feel giddy. Your body is now functioning at a much lower level; your breathing is more shallow; your heartbeat is slower. You’ve calmed everything down and made the whole of your body work at a slower speed. So you need to take time to get back to normal. Don’t rush anything.

When you want to get up, start by clenching and unclenching your fists several times so that your blood will circulate a little more quickly. You might find that your fingertips begin to tingle when you do this. Now sit up slowly and swing your legs over the edge of the bed, or sit with your knees raised if you are on the floor. Get used to the new position and then finally you will be ready to stand up and walk around again.

Back to normal. How was that?

Practise regularly until you can relax at will. Certainly try to find twenty minutes to half an hour each day if you can. Early in the morning or late at night—choose the time that suits you best. Gradually you will begin to feel better all over. Regular relaxation is the key to coping with both the cramps and the aching miseries. As you grow more proficient, you will learn which part of your body is most tense and so requires the most attention to relax. It’s different with everybody.

Outside help-Some people find it hard to learn to relax with or without a friend to help and wish there was someone around to teach them. The National Childbirth Trust has been running relaxation classes for expectant mothers for over twenty-one years now and some of their groups can provide teachers for women who suffer from period pain. If you live in the Leeds area you’re in luck, for the Leeds branch is particularly well organized in this respect. In any case, look up the Trust in your local telephone directory; there may be a branch near you. Or contact their headquarters, at 9 Queensborough Terrace, London W2 3TB (Telephone: 01-229 9319).


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