And relax... tips to lower stress levels

Yoga is a popular relaxation technique
For many of us, relaxation involves zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. This does little to ease the bad effects of stress.

For many of us, relaxation involves zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. This does little to ease the bad effects of stress.

Relaxation is a state of low tension and calmness. Anger, anxiety or fear cause us to release stress hormones including adrenaline, cortisol etc. These ‘fight and flight’ hormones serve to protect us. However if stress is ongoing, over time these hormones can have negative effects on the body.

Relaxation techniques can rebalance it by inducing adeep calmness.

The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. Learning to relax is a skill that takes at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for practice

Find your technique

There is no single method that is best for everyone. How you react to stress may point to the relaxation technique that is best for you:

1: Breathing meditation

With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple, powerful, relaxation method. Put one hand on your stomach (this should rise) and the other hand on your chest (this should move very little). Breathe deeply from the abdomen through an open mouth in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and breath out 5 seconds repeat for 10 mins.

2: Progressive muscle relaxation

PMR involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. PMR allows you to tune into your bodies tension and relaxation state. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind.

3: Body scan meditation

A body scan is similar to progressive muscle relaxation except, instead of tensing and relaxing muscles, you simply focus on the sensations in each part of your body.

4: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware of how you’re feeling right now, your “moment-to-moment” experience. Thinking about the past or worrying about the future can lead to overwhelming stress. By staying calm and focused in the present moment, you can bring your nervous system back into balance.

5: Visualization

Visualization requires you to use not only your visual sense, but also your sense of taste, touch, smell, and sound. When used as a relaxation technique, visualization involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety.

Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether it’s a tropical beach or a favorite childhood spot. You can do this on your own in silence, or while listening to soothing music.

6: Yoga and tai chi

Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. Practiced regularly, it can also strengthen the relaxation response in your daily life.

Tai chi is a series of slow, flowing body movements, emphasizing concentration, relaxation, and the circulation of energy in the body. It is practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stres, focusing on breathing and the present moment.

Make relaxation a part of your day

Search Youtube for the differing types of relaxation techniques and you will find video instructions. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. Just get started again and slowly build up.