13 Relaxation Techniques to Help you Reduce Stress
With today’s fast-paced world, it is very easy to become stressed. Whether you have been overworking yourself, worried about the future, or dwelling on the past, stress will affect you. While there are many ways to reduce stress, there are some proven ways that are exceptionally helpful when it comes to stress reduction.
In order to be effective when it comes to combating inevitable stressors, you must find techniques to help you both in stressful moments, and afterwards. If you have been stressed out and are looking for relaxation techniques to help you reduce your stress levels, you have come to the right place.
How Stress Affects your Body
Everyone has felt the effects of stress, however, few people realize that stress takes a toll on our bodies. In fact, chronic stress is not just bad for your mind, it can also negatively impact how your body functions. Higher levels of stress directly correlate to higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released when the mind perceives danger. Whether you are in danger or not, your brain will release this hormone which is meant to help you fight or flee in a moment of danger.
While the release of this hormone can be a good thing in dangerous situations. If you are constantly stressed, this can lead to other health issues. Increased cortisol levels have been linked to high blood pressure, headaches, stomach aches, and severe symptoms of anxiety. While this all seems scary, there are relaxation techniques that are designed to help combat these symptoms of stress and reduce the levels of cortisol released in a stressful situation. In fact, some of these techniques have been found to decrease blood pressure and feelings of anxiety.
Check out each one to see which one is right for you!
Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
With just a couple of extra steps added to your daily routine, or the stressful moments you may endure, you can cut your stress levels down significantly. This not only leads to lowering your stress level or anxiety, but can impact your physical health as well.
These relaxation techniques are good at calming you down in a moment of anxiety. This benefits both your body and mind, preparing you physically and mentally for the next time you are feeling stressed out. While some people prefer to integrate several techniques into their routine, you may find a couple that work best for you. Try them out consistently to see the benefits of each one!
There are plenty of great relaxation techniques designed to reduce stress. However, each individual will have a preference for some that work better than others. If you are someone that deals with a significant amount of daily stressors, consider trying one of the relaxation techniques.
Meditation is one of the main relaxation techniques you think of when it comes to destressing.
Meditation refers to different types of techniques that help focusing on integration of the mind and body to calm the mind and hence feeling better. Meditation has different forms, some will involve a mental effort to focus on one particular sensation such as breathing, a certain visual image or even a repeated phrase or sound, and other forms of meditation include mindfulness or awareness of the present moment. (4)
Focused meditation, is a method of relaxation that focuses your attention on your body, emotion, or feeling. Typically, it will redirect your attention from the things that are stressing you out, making it very helpful when it comes to destressing.
Generally, those who meditate focus on key areas. Each one will help detract the mind from the stressor by focusing on something else. Some examples include:
- Body position which focuses primarily on how the body feels, how the body is positioned, and where the body is.
- Quiet which focuses on breathing and being present in a quiet space with limited distractions.
- Refocused attention which is the process of slowly taking your attention off of the stressor and refocusing it on something positive.
Take a slow deep breath in. Now let it out!
Deep breathing is a great technique for relaxation that is typically paired with meditation. Deep breathing is a practice where you redirect your mind through breathing in several variations. There are several types of deep breathing techniques, and the best part of it is that you can practice it anytime and anywhere.
The concept among different deep breathing techniques is the same, where you consciously se your diaphragm for breathing and you pace your respiration. You take a deep slow breath through your nose and let your belly fill with air. This is followed by breathing out through your nose. As you breathe in, you will feel your belly rise.As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. Repeat these steps 4-5 times.
Visualization or guided imagery
Visualization entails imagining what you want to achieve in the future, as if it were true at the moment. It involves using all five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. This process directs your subconscious mind to be aware of the end goal you want to achieve. Through repeated practice of guided imagery, you train your brain to respond as if the outcome were true in the present moment.
When used properly, this is a relaxation technique that helps you release tension by focusing on an image, place, or scene where you feel at peace and relaxed. Some people choose to focus on positive memories or experiences. By stepping into that mindset, you are simultaneously leaving behind the negative emotions and feelings that accompany stressful situations.
Mindfulness is not clearing our mind and is not just focusing on one thing. Mindfulness is our human ability to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of the present.
Mindfulness is a basic human quality that each of us possesses, however sometimes we just have to learn how to access it.
There are different types of mindfulness practice. You can practice mindfulness while walking, or lying down. Some people prefer to take short pauses during their day to practice mindfulness.
As we become mindful, we are able to gain insight and awareness and hence reduce stress and enhance performance.
Unlike other relaxation practices, this is one that focuses more on physical touch than emotions or mental state. However, it is just as effective at ridding the mind of anxiety and stress. It can be great to get a professional massage, and this distressing technique is very similar.
Self-massage is using your hands or tools to manipulate your sore muscles by kneading the skin and applying pressure on tendons, muscles and joints. You can simply use your hands to massage your head, neck or feet. Some people take it a step further and use a foam roller to massage their back or legs.
Other stress relief and reducing anxiety, self massage might also help to reduce chronic pain conditions like arthritis.
This is known as both an exercise and a relaxation technique. It gets your body up and moving in very specific ways. It helps improve flexibility and strength as well as balance and stamina. Not only can this help reduce stress, but it is great exercise as well.
Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi is now a popular for of exercise used to reduce stress. It is often described as meditation in motion, as tai chi promotes tranquility through gentle, flowing movement.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This relaxation technique not only helps to reduce anxiety and stress, but it helps with insomnia and certain types of chronic pain as well. The concept is based on a simple practice of tightening a certain muscle group in your body, followed by a phase of relaxation.
It is recommended to tense and relax a group of muscles one at a time in an order that you choose, starting in the lower extremities and ending with your facial muscles, abdomen, and chest.
Here’s how you can practice progressive muscle relaxation:
While taking a breath in, contract one muscle group (for example your calf muscles) for 5 to 10 seconds, then breathe out and release the tension in that muscle group. Take a break for 10-20 seconds and repeat the same process in the following muscle groups of your choice.
Autogenic means “coming from within”. Autogenic training is a relaxation technique that uses the power of the mind to relax the body. Some people think of it as a form of self-hypnosis. For this relaxation technique, you probably will need to enroll in a class, as training requires an instructor, with in a private or group session.
Get moving! Exercise in almost any form, can act as a stress reliever. Exercise pumps up your endorphins, a brain neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. Regular exercise will also improve your mood, self-confidence and lower symptoms of anxiety. Nevertheless, regular exercise can help you sleep better.
This is a type of therapy that uses extracts from plants known as essential oils, that you can put on your skin or breathe them through your nose.
To use this properly, you will want to invest in a diffuser and essential oils. The oils come in varying scents to choose from depending on what you are trying to achieve. The diffuser is a great tool for dispersing the scents throughout a room. Not only will your room smell great, but you will be relaxed as well!
Music can have a profound effect on our emotions and our body. As fast beat music can make us more alert, a slower tempo can calm your mind and relax your muscles, resulting in feeling calm.
If religion or spirituality is meaningful to you, repetitive prayers can effectively promote hope and reduce anxiety
Choosing the Right Technique for You
Rather than choosing just one technique, it is recommended to try different methods and see which one works best for your needs and situation. Try to practice at least 15 minutes a day, and it’s best if you can practice relaxation techniques several times a day. The long and the more often you practice these techniques, the more benefits you will achieve in reducing stress.