Reduce Stress With These 10 Easy Relaxation Techniques
With all the stress around, relaxing is something everyone should do as often as possible. You don’t need to go on an expensive retreat or a spa weekend to relax. Here are some stress-relieving tips will have you breathing more easily in only a few minutes:
Research shows that meditating daily can alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.
A few minutes of practice every day can help ease anxiety. Meditating is pretty simple. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra like “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Let your recitation be in sync with your breaths and let distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Take a deep breath
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight with your eyes closed and a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale deeply through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Then exhale through your mouth. Repeat this process over and again. It helps counter the effects of stress by slowing your heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Focus on the present
Slow down and take a few minutes to focus on only one thing. Enjoy the taste and texture of every bite of your food. Note the parts of your body the sun touches when you’re out. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Spending time in the moment and focussing on your senses will help you feel less tense.
One of the best ways of handling stress is to reach out. Talk to others, preferably face to face, but also on the phone or on social media. Share what’s going on with you and the way you feel. This can help you get a fresh perspective on things that may be stressing you out.
5. Pay attention to your body
Take a mental scan of your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lying on your back or sitting with your feet on the floor, focus on how your body feels from your toes down to the top of your head. Be aware of the sensations you feel in each body part without trying to change anything. Do this for one or two minutes, imagining each deep breath flowing to that body part.
Find a way to massage away tension. You can use a warm heat wrap places around your neck and shoulders for a few minutes. Just close your eyes, and relax your face, neck, upper chest and back muscles. You can also use a tennis ball or foam roller. Just put the ball between your back and the wall, then lean into it gently for about 15 seconds. Move the ball to another spot and apply pressure.
7. Laugh out loud
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favourite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.
8. Turn the music up
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs, nature sounds or soothing instrumentals and focus on the different melodies or singers. You can also rock out to more upbeat tunes and sing at the top of your lungs. Listen to anything as long as it helps.
All forms of exercise, whether walking, cardio or yoga, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals. It also gives your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. Go for a quick walk down your street, jog up a few flights of stairs or do some stretching exercises.
10. Be grateful
Take note of all the things that are good in your life. You can do this using gratitude journals. You can keep one by your bed, in your bag, and at work or on your phone. Jot down good experiences you savoured, from good health to a child’s smile or an accomplishment like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby. When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.