Work pressure, financial trouble, family issues, juggling too many tasks at once, battling an illness and myriad of other things can cause stress. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to physical and mental problems including headaches, nausea, poor sleep patterns, anxiety, fatigue, depression, high blood pressure and more. Therefore, managing stress is an important part of maintaining your health. Practicing relaxation techniques can help you refocus on something positive and calming, which can help keep stress at bay. Below are six examples of some great relaxation techniques.
This is one of the simplest relaxation techniques, and it can be practiced anywhere. Per Harvard Health, breath focus is one of several ways to invoke your body’s relaxation response. You’ll feel the difference between deep breathing and normal breathing because the air you breathe in through your nose will fully fill your lungs and your belly will rise. To do this, you’ll want to find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Now, breathe in slowly through your nose until you feel your chest and belly rise. Let your abdomen expand and then breathe out slowly through your mouth or nose, whichever feels more comfortable. Try to practice this technique once or twice a day for at least 10 to 20 minutes, and make it a part of your daily routine.
Some people might call this going to your “happy place” or taking a mental vacation. With this technique, you form mental images and incorporate other senses to take a visual journey to a serene, calming place. Involving other senses will enhance your experience. For instance, if you imagine being on a beach in front of an ocean, conjure the sound of the waves rolling into shore, feel the warm breeze, and imagine the smell of sand and salty air. Sit in a quiet, distraction-free place while doing this, and keep your thoughts focused on those images in the present moment, without letting your mind drift. Do this for as long as you can, until you feel your mind and body relax.
There’s a lot of truth to the well-known statement, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing has great short-term stress relief benefits. Most obvious, laughing immediately puts you in a lighter mood and soothes tension. It also increases your oxygen intake, stimulates your heart and lungs, and increases endorphins from your brain. These things help you relax. Seek out something that makes you laugh, whether it’s kicking back on the couch with your favorite comedy movie, getting into a giggle war with your child or reading a funny novel. Teat yourself to a healthy dose of laughter to help relieve stress.
Progressive muscle relaxation
In this relaxation method, you’ll focus on tensing and relaxing each of your muscle groups from your head to your toes. You can start with your head and neck and work your way down to your toes, or vice-versa. Slowly tense your muscles for five seconds and then let them relax for 30 seconds. Do this for all your muscles, in your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes. Tense, relax, and repeat for as many cycles as you’d like. With regular practice, you’ll recognize when your muscles are tensing outside of this exercise and help you learn how to relieve that tension.
Listening to music reduces stress and anxiety, among other physical benefits. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place and listen to music that soothes and calms you. Classical music or opera relaxes some people. However, anything you enjoy that relieves tension and helps you relax is great. You can also put on headphones to block out distractions. If you play an instrument, like guitar or piano, make time in your schedule to play some of your favorite tunes each day. If you incorporate deep breathing or visualization while listening to soothing music, the stress-reducing benefits will be even greater.
Massage not only relieves physical tension in your muscles, but its soothing effects also help reduce stress and anxiety. A well-trained massage therapist will use various techniques to rub, stroke, or apply pressure to tense muscles to help them relax. These techniques are often practiced in a dim and quiet place, and some therapists use candles or soft music to enhance the calming effect of the environment. You can a try a few different therapists if you’d like to find the one to suit your needs best.
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