When things get stressful, it is common to feel overwhelmed, both physically and mentally. You may struggle with frustration, anger, depression and even fatigue. In times like these, relaxation techniques come in handy to help you relieve stress. Most of them can be used any time, any place, whenever stress may arise.
Relaxation techniques can benefit you mentally, emotionally and physically. They can take the edge off and help you feel more confident and able to deal with life’s obstacles. With these techniques, you can learn to calm yourself and think more rationally and clearly. Additionally, relaxation techniques can reduce the physical symptoms of stress, such as:
There are a variety of relaxation techniques, so choose the one that works best for you. You can even combine relaxation techniques if more than one is suitable for you. Here is a list of some of the techniques that help to reduce your stress:
This is a very common technique that can put you in a deep state of relaxation. All you have to do is tense and relax your muscles. Starting with your toes, tense the muscles for 5 to 10 seconds and then relax them for 30 seconds. Then, tense and relax the muscles in your feet. Work your way up to your face, or you can begin with your face and work down to your toes.
Body scan meditation is similar to progressive muscle relaxation. But instead of tensing and relaxing your muscles, you are going to focus on the different sensations that your body feels. First, start with your breathing. Focus on it for about two minutes and then focus on that breath flowing into your toes. Picture that breath flowing into your feet, legs, etc., on up to your face.
In this technique, you are supposed to visualize yourself in a tranquil, serene location such as the beach, a tropical island or a log cabin in the mountains. Or, picture yourself having a positive experience, like spending time with family, going on a fantasy shopping trip or traveling to your favorite destination. Whatever relaxes you is what you should visualize. While visualizing, try to involve as many of your senses as possible. What does the place look like? What sounds do you hear? What scents do you smell?
This technique combines progressive muscle relaxation, visualization and body scan meditation. To begin, imagine yourself in a relaxing place or situation. Then, focus on your breathing or heart rate as you would in body scan meditation. Or, focus on tensing and relaxing your muscles as you would in progressive muscle relaxation.
For this technique, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and then exhale as much air as possible through your mouth. When inhaling, your stomach should rise but pull in when exhaling. The reverse should happen with your chest. Continue breathing for five to 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed. (see: Breathing Exercises For Stress Management.)
Deep breathing is actually the main component for meditation, so once you have deep breathing down pat, you can move on to more advanced forms of meditation where you contemplate a question or focus attention on one part of your body. To enhance the experience, you can put soothing music on and get into comfortable clothes. If you are in a place where you can’t do that, make sure you can find a quiet space in which to meditate.
If you’d like to continue on the path of meditation, you can always practice mindfulness meditation, which requires you to gaze steadily at what’s in front of you while you let your thoughts flow freely through your mind. If you aren’t in a place where you can meditate, you can still practice mindfulness by being aware of your thoughts and surroundings in the present moment. Observe what’s going on around you – but don’t judge it. Simply observe others, your thoughts, your breathing with an open mind. This technique can be especially helpful if you often find yourself worrying about stressful situations and events; mindfulness can help put your mind at ease.
There’s nothing more relaxing than a massage, so ask your significant other to give you a good back rub to reduce your stress. Or, treat yourself to a massage at a nice spa. You may even want to invest in a massage chair if that is your preferred method of relaxation.
Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise that involves slow, graceful movements. Tai Chi is beneficial mentally as it rejuvenates the mind and can improve your sense of well-being. In fact, Tai Chi is often referred to as “meditation in motion.” Tai Chi can also improve your balance and flexibility as well as build your muscle strength.
Yoga is another relaxing exercise that can also clear your mind. If you don’t already practice it, you may want to sign up for a local class or find an instructional DVD with which to teach yourself some of the basic moves.
Don’t be afraid to customize your setting while employing your chosen technique. You can listen to soothing music, put on comfortable clothes, light some candles or even take a bath if it will help you get to a deeper state of relaxation. To get the most out of your relaxation technique, practice it every day for 10 to 20 minutes. That way, when a stressful situation arises, you’ll be able to face it head on.