6 Stress-relieving Relaxation Techniques

Even a few minutes of practice per day can develop a reservoir of inner peace.

We all confront stressful events at some point in our life, from simple irritations like traffic jams to more serious concerns like a loved one's terminal illness. Stress floods your body with hormones, regardless of the cause. Your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens, and your muscles tense up.

This so-called "stress response" is a natural reaction to stressful events that evolved over time to help us withstand hazards such as animal attacks and floods. Today, we are rarely exposed to such physical threats, but stressful situations in everyday life can trigger the stress response. We can't, and wouldn't want to, avoid all sources of stress in our lives. However, we may learn to respond to them in more healthy ways.

Six relaxation strategies are listed below to assist you elicit the relaxation response and reduce stress.

1. Concentrate on your breathing

You take long, calm, deep breaths in this simple but effective technique (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). You carefully disconnect your mind from distracting ideas and sensations as you breathe. People with eating problems may find that focusing on their breath can help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way. This procedure, however, may not be suitable for people who have health issues that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory problems or heart failure.

2. Scan your entire body

Breath attention is combined with progressive muscular relaxation in this method. Following a few minutes of deep breathing, you concentrate on one section of the body or set of muscles at a time, mentally releasing whatever physical tension you may be experiencing. A body scan can assist you in becoming more aware of the mind-body relationship. This strategy may be less effective for you if you have recently had surgery that has affected your body image or if you have other body image issues.

3. Imagery that is guided

You use this approach to help you relax and focus by conjuring up pleasant sights, places, or events in your mind. You can find free apps and online recordings of relaxing scenes—just make sure to pick images that you like and that have personal meaning. Although guided imagery can help you maintain a positive image of oneself, it can be challenging for those who experience intrusive thoughts or have trouble conjuring up mental images.

4. Meditation that focuses on the present moment

This technique is sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the current moment without getting caught up in worries about the past or future. In recent years, this type of meditation has grown in popularity. It may be beneficial for persons suffering from anxiety, despair, or pain, according to research.

5. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong are some of the most popular forms of exercise.

These three ancient disciplines include a series of postures or flowing movements with rhythmic breathing. The physical features of these exercises provide a mental focus that can help you focus on something other than your racing thoughts. They can also help you to be more flexible and balanced. These relaxation techniques may be too difficult for you if you are not generally active, have health concerns, or suffer from a painful or disabling condition. Before you begin, consult your doctor.

6. Prayer that is repeated over and over.

You use this technique to practice breath focus while silently repeating a short prayer or phrase from a prayer. If religion or spirituality are important to you, this way may be very intriguing.

Instead of picking just one strategy, experts advise trying a few to find which one works best for you. Ideally, you should practice for at least 20 minutes per day, but even a few minutes can help. However, the longer and more frequently you practice these relaxation techniques, the higher the advantages and the bigger the amount of stress you may minimize.

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