34 brilliant stress management
Relaxation triggers a physiological response that is the opposite
to the stress response. Now your sympathetic nervous system
will reduce its activity, slowing your breathing and heart rates,
while your parasympathetic nervous system takes control, re-
activating your immune response, your digestive system and
your natural sleep cycles. Your sex drive will surely follow.
If only you could then boost your relaxation and create a
powerful sense of wellbeing. Perhaps incredibly powerful drugs
might help. Drugs that are legal and completely safe to use
would be ideal – and better still, free.
The drugs we are talking about are a group of natural brain
chemicals called endorphins, which are responsible, wholly or in
part, for senses of elation, relaxation, and pain relief. Our hypo-
thalamus and pituitary glands (which also play a big part in our
ght-or-ight response – see Chapter 1) produce them naturally
at times when we exercise hard, feel love or excitement, eat spicy
food, and have an orgasm.
You can also fool your brain into releasing endorphins by
allowing yourself to think about a pleasurable memory in great
detail. Take about 10 minutes to close your eyes and wallow in
that memory, seeing the scenes you saw, hearing the sounds,
smelling the smells and feeling the textures and temperature.
Make it as real as you can and feel free to amplify how good it
was in your memory. You can use this technique to conjure up
a sense of calm, happiness, joy or anything else. Build a library
of recollections or even fantasies that you can call on when you
The perfect relaxing posture
We met the Alexander Technique earlier in this chapter, with
some tips for standing up and sitting down. To relax completely,
try lying down the Alexander way.