For many of us, unwinding after a hectic day consists of collapsing on the sofa and glazing over as we watch television. However, this does little to decrease the harmful consequences of worry. Instead of being tense, you need to induce your body’s natural soothing response, a deep comforting state that reduces pressure, slow your breathing and pulse, decreases your blood pressure, and helps your body and mind to come back into equilibrium. You can relax and reduce stress levels by utilizing various calming approaches like deep breathing, contemplation, rhythmic workouts, yoga, or tai chi.
Rather than opting to purchase a massage or acupuncture visit from a specialist, the utilization of free audio downloads or inexpensive smartphone applications is a great option to practice relaxation techniques on your own. It is critical to bear in mind that not every person will respond positively to the same relaxation method. We’re all different. There should be an approach that fits with your own personal style and works with your individual everyday routine to bring about a sense of peace. It could take some experimentation to identify the tactic (or tactics) that are most useful for you. Engaging in a consistent routine of practice can help diminish daily worries, enhance rest, enhance vigor and disposition, as well as enhance general health and wellbeing.
Relaxation technique #1. Deep breathing
The main aim of deep breathing is to take in long, deep breaths that draw more oxygen into the body, and which can help to clear the mind. This is an easy-to-learn yet powerful tool to facilitate relaxation. This activity is simple to understand, may be done almost anywhere, and is a great way to reduce stress quickly. The foundation of multiple unwinding techniques is deep breathing, which can also be mixed with different calming components such as scented therapies and music. It is not essential that you use applications or sound recordings to learn how to meditate; all you require is a few moments and a tranquil spot in which to take a seat or extend out.
How to practice deep breathing
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it challenging to draw air from your stomach while seated, attempt reclining instead. Take a small book and place it on your abdomen. As you draw breath in, your abdomen should lift the book up, and when you exhale, your abdomen should let the book back down.
#2. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle tension and relaxation is a two-part technique in which you alternate between tensing and releasing the muscles throughout your body. By devoting time to repeated sessions, you’ll become acquainted with how it feels when different areas of your body are either tense or relaxed. You can use this to respond to the early indicators of muscular tightness that come along with stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind.
By participating in progressive muscle relaxation along with deep breathing, one can gain a higher level of stress relief.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Prior to engaging in any activity that may cause strain on your muscles, it is highly advising consulting your doctor if you have any prior conditions, such as muscle spasms, back issues, or any other major injuries that could be exacerbated by contracting your muscles.
Begin with your lower body and gradually move upwards, concentrating on tensing the appropriate muscles only.
- Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
- Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
- When you’re ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
- Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
- Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
- It may take some practice at first but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
#3. Body scan meditation
In this form of meditation, you direct your attention to different aspects of your physical being. Beginning with your feet, move up your body in a step-by-step manner similar to progressive muscle relaxation. Rather than tensing and relaxing your muscles, just focus on the feelings in each part of your body without judging them as good or bad.
- Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, eyes open or closed. Focus on your breathing for about two minutes until you start to feel relaxed.
- Turn your focus to the toes of your right foot. Notice any sensations you feel while continuing to also focus on your breathing. Imagine each deep breath flowing to your toes. Remain focused on this area for three to five seconds (or more).
- Move your focus to the sole of your right foot. Tune in to any sensations you feel in that part of your body and imagine each breath flowing from the sole of your foot. After one or two minutes, move your focus to your right ankle and repeat. Move to your calf, knee, thigh, and hip, and then repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Pay close attention to any area of the body that causes you pain or discomfort.
- After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then slowly open your eyes and stretch, if necessary.
Guided imagery is an adaptation of traditional meditation which involves seeing in your mind a setting where you can be alleviated of stress and fear. You are able to them fully relax and abandon your worries. Pick a place that soothes you, maybe a beach in a tropical destination, your favorite place from when you were a kid, or an idyllic grove.
It is possible to engage in visualization either by oneself or with the aid of an app or sound file to take you through the vision. You have the option to do your visualization without any noise or use sound enhancement tools, such as tranquil music or a noisemaker, or audio that fits your visualized environment; for instance, the audio of sea waves if you pictured yourself on a beach.
Close your eyes and imagine your restful place. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible: every sight, sound, smell, taste, and sensation. Merely envisioning it in your imagination like you would a picture is not sufficient. In order to get the best results, try to include as much sensory information as possible when you visualize. For example, if you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake:
- See the sun setting over the water
- Hear the birds singing
- Smell the pine trees
- Feel the cool water on your bare feet
- Taste the fresh, clean air
Savor the sensation of all your anxieties dissipating as you calmly meander through your tranquil spot. Once you feel prepared, kindly raise your eyelids and return to the here and now. It is okay if you find your mind wandering during a visualization exercise. Do not stress if your focus drifts away occasionally. This is normal. Your limbs may feel heavy, you could have involuntary muscle contractions, or you could find yourself yawning frequently. Again, these are normal responses.
It’s commonplace to know that a massage from a certified practitioner at a spa or fitness facility can be an effective way to de-stress, diminish aches, and alleviate muscle tightness. Without you knowing, you can still experience many of the same advantages either at home or on the job by giving yourself a massage or by swapping massages with someone close to you.
Take a short break and give yourself a mini massage while working, at the completion of a frenzied day, or before going to bed to assist with relaxation. To increase your sense of comfort, you can utilize fragrant oil, scented cream, or mix self-massage with concentration or controlled breathing strategies.
A five-minute self-massage to relieve stress
A blend of different techniques can be effective in relieving muscle stiffness. Hit lightly with the pads of your hands or tapping with your fingertips or use the palms of your hands in a cupped shape. Put fingertip pressure on muscle knots. Knead across muscles, and try long, light, gliding strokes. You can use these movements to massage any part of the body that is easy to access. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head:
- Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Next, use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.
- Now massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your eyebrows to your temples.
- Finally, close your eyes. Cup your hands loosely over your face and inhale and exhale easily for a short while.
Exercise As Stress Relief: The Connection Between Cortisol And Exercise
When working out, cortisol is secreted, leading to modifications in the body’s hormonal network, thus pushing you to maintain your effort level even when under pressure. The cortisol level in your body rises in these moments, leading to an increase in the heart rate in order to supply your muscles with oxygen-rich blood. Simultaneously, blood sugar levels are raised to provide your muscles with extra energy to confront or flee.
The tougher your exercise routine and the greater the demand you place on your body, the higher the cortisol level that is generated. However, the body’s internal equilibrium system will respond to the high levels of cortisol present; it will strive to have a balanced amount of hormonal agents in the body.
How does exercise reduce stress? Gentle to moderate exercise helps the body return to its normal, balanced state after it experiences increased amounts of cortisol. Physical activity helps the body learn to recover more quickly after times of strain and tension. Your overall cortisol levels will also decrease.
Some Simple Daily Activities To Relieve Stress
Stress-Relieving Exercises: Gardening
Gardening can be seen as an exercise to alleviate stress because it is an activity that gives one physical exercise which leads to the reduction of cortisol levels. But that’s not all. The ground houses Mycobacterium vaccae, a specific kind of germ that is capable of raising serotonin production in humans when breathed in or eaten. Gathering and collecting fruits and vegetables stimulates the brain to emit dopamine, which leads to a further increase in joy.
Harvesting homegrown fruits and veggies, as well as breathing deeply while doing yard work, maybe a great way to de-stress.
Cleaning is a great form of exercise. The typical 150lb individual can incinerate up to 200 calories while they clean. You can reap the advantages of physical activity when you exercise, including endorphins being released, and an improvement in your fitness.
A perplexing association exists between tidying and tension. Both men and women display increased cortisol levels when they perform household tasks. Inhabiting a chaotic home has been associated with heightened cortisol levels.
So how best to combat this? Mindfulness practice could well be the answer.
Researchers from Florida State University recently unveiled the outcomes of performing casual Mindfulness exercises while doing the dishes. The collective that trained in Mindfulness stated that their positive sentiment enhanced, negative sentiment decreased and their alertness grew.
“The present moment holds the past and the future, in it, the universe is contained.” Thich That Hanh, a notable Buddhist poet, spiritual leader, and originator of the Mindfulness movement, accentuated the importance of full attention to the present moment, mentioning that it holds inside of it the past and the future, and within it is the entire universe.
While washing dishes, the sole focus should be on the task at hand. The simple act of standing here washing dishes is truly amazing. I am being totally genuine, breathing naturally, being aware of being here, and reflecting on my ideas and behavior.
When it comes to washing the dishes, leave all of your troubles behind. Alternatively, undertake some mindfulness exercises and make your daily jobs a self-help meeting without charge!
Stress Relief Exercise: Walking
Hunter et al.’s (2019) research showed that just a 20-minute excursion in nature was enough to significantly decrease cortisol levels. Those levels decreased even more significantly when the walking time went up to 30 minutes.
Research from 2015 suggests that taking regular walks can help to reduce rumination and might even protect against depression, as it gives people positive things to concentrate on rather than worrying about stressful scenarios and ideas.
If you’re feeling stressed, why not put on your walking shoes and go for a stroll? That might help you let off some steam.
Engaging in a variety of leisure activities, such as reading, knitting, coloring, and playing video games, can help reduce tension. We don’t regularly allocate ourselves opportunities for self-care, so take advantage of this chance to learn something unfamiliar or to revive an interest you’ve been neglecting. Your body will thank you for it!
When it seems like stress is getting the better of you, take a step back and do something you really enjoy. Take a break, relax, and try to think of something else. It can facilitate the restoration of your energy and make sure that you maintain a beneficial and successful level of mental health!