With everything that’s going on — the pandemic, deadlines at work, traffic jams, handling relationships, or even ill-timed joint pain during the holidays — life can be really stressful. And sometimes, when we are faced with stressors, they can carry physical and psychological tensions that may impact our quality of life.
While stress is personal (meaning people find stressful situations differently), there’s a wide range of ways to manage stress. This includes breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization.
Learning to manage stress is imperative to help your body and mind relax more. However, before we provide you with some useful techniques, it’s essential to understand stress and how relaxation helps to reduce it.
What Is Stress?
Stress is your body’s natural response when challenging situations, responsibilities, feelings, and threats rise. It can happen in the body naturally and can be clearly seen physically, emotionally, and mentally.
However, stress is unique to everyone because individuals respond to situations differently. For instance, an individual might find public speaking stressful, but someone else doesn’t mind speaking in public and finds it more stressful to be stuck in a traffic jam instead.
What Are the Common Signs of Stress?
Everyone experiences stress. Tackling it as soon as possible helps mitigate its negative effects in your overall well-being. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress to look out for are:
Constant worry or anxiety
Feelings of being overwhelmed
How Relaxing Reduces Stress?
The modern lifestyle is usually stressful, there’s no doubt about that. And for most people, relaxing means zoning out on their comfortable mattress. Toronto, Vancouver, and other major cities around the world have populations that are more prone to chronic stress. However, this does little to reduce the harmful outcomes of stress.
Relaxing your body and mind helps you relax physically, release body tension, and (most importantly) relieve psychological stress. By channeling your body’s natural response to stress, you can put brakes on stress and bring back your mind and body back into balance. You can do this through breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization.
Useful Techniques to Relax Your Body and Mind
Because we’re all different, there’s no single technique that drives for everyone. This means, you’d undergo trial-and-error to find the right techniques that work best for you. Once you’ve found them, it can greatly help reduce everyday anxiety and stress, boost your mood and energy, plus improve your sleep and overall well being.
Breathing exercises is the cornerstone of relaxation techniques. It’s the simplest and most effective way to calm your body and mind during stressful situations. You can do breathing exercises by breathing slow for 3 counts and breathing out to the same slow count of 3.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
In this technique, you will have to focus on your muscle groups by tightening and relaxing them slowly. It is best practiced along with guided imagery and breathing exercises. If practiced regularly, you can have a deep familiarity of what tension feels like in your body. This can no doubt help you address muscular tension and manage muscle pain, even during winter.
Body Scan Meditation
This is a type of meditation where you focus your attention to different parts of your body; starting with your feet going all the way up. This is similar to progressive muscle relaxation. However, in this technique, you simply focus on how each part of your body feels like instead of tensing and relaxing your muscles.
Also known as guided imagery, visualization is a traditional meditation to help your body and mind relax. This involves imagining a peaceful scene (a tropical beach, a childhood spot, quiet forest, or anywhere that is calming to you) where you can release all your tensions and anxieties.
Rhythmic Movement and Exercise
While rhythmic movements and exercises such as running, walking, swimming, or dancing might not sound particularly relaxing, repetitive movements can help your body produce a relaxation response that is essential in putting brakes on stress.
You probably know the benefits of getting a great massage. It relieves muscle pain, reduces anxiety and stress, and the like. However, you can still experience the same benefits if you practice self-massage on certain areas of your body.
Connect to Nature
When you feel stressed, take a few minutes to spend time with nature. Whether you sit in nature, go for a walk, or even stare at images of nature, it can bring you calming effects that reduce stress.
Other Types of Relaxation Techniques: