Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Why do we need to relax? Stress in small doses is good for you, but when you are chronically stressed it can trigger a number of health issues. High blood pressure, a weakened immune system and headaches are just a couple of the physical issues stress can cause. In addition, stress can trigger a number of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Relaxation encourages a healthy mind and body, by slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate and reducing the activity of stress hormones. Here are some relaxation techniques to try.
1. Focus on your breathing.
This is a simple, and powerful technique that you can do anywhere, anytime. Simply close your eyes, and take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, you slowly disengage your mind from any distracting thoughts and sensations by focusing on your breath.
2. Body scan
This technique blends the above breathing focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, starting with your feet, focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally release any tension there. Work your way all the way up to the top of your head.
3. Mindfulness or meditation
This involves sitting comfortably, with your eyes closed, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future.
Any form of exercise, preferably outdoor so that you are also getting fresh air, is one of the best and simplest stress relievers.
Try one of these methods every day over the next week to feel the physical benefit of relaxation.
For a guided relaxation recording, click here to download.