Stress: The thing we all experience but rarely talk about. Stressful experiences in daily life range from minor inconveniences to major tragedies, but prolonged stress can bring on many physical and mental symptoms.
Luckily, relaxation is here to save the day. Engaging in practices that promote a relaxed headspace is essential for our overall well-being. Ready to say goodbye to chronic stress and achieve serenity? Try out these techniques to reach deep relaxation and live a healthier, happier and more peaceful life.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Peace starts from within – but it’s essential to maintain healthy outer circumstances to give yourself the physical and mental space required to reach tranquility.
Before you add techniques to your wellness routine that may help you achieve relaxation, check in with yourself by reflecting on the following questions:
- What’s in my life that’s no longer serving me?
- Can I remove the things that are negatively impacting me?
- If I can, how can I go about doing this in a healthy, kind manner?
- How can I reframe my mindset around these things more positively if I can’t?
Perhaps there is a relationship that is causing insecurity or a job that has been weighing you down. As you reflect on these questions, pay attention to whatever comes up for you. Be honest with yourself and let go when you need to.
2. Dress Comfortably
Has an itchy tag or pants one size too small spiked your anxiety? The clothes you wear massively affect your ability to chill out and relax, so choosing clothes that make you feel comfortable and at ease is important.
3. Shake Out Your Body
Have you ever noticed that animals shake after a close call with a predator? Well, this physical response results from more than an emotional reaction to fear – it’s also the body’s subconscious way of regulating the nervous system when it’s overstimulated. Shaking sends a signal to the brain that the danger has passed, and the fight-or-flight response can turn off.
If you’re filled to the brim with anxiety, consider standing up and shaking out your arms and legs. It may seem (or look) silly, but it’s an effective shortcut to reaching a relaxed state! You can also achieve this stress-release response through physical activity.
4. Mindful Breathing
Focusing on your breathing can also be a powerful relaxation technique. Our nervous system kicks into overdrive when we take quick, shallow breaths, leading to stress and anxiety. Slow, managed breaths have the opposite effect. Benefits of mindful breathing include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Decreased blood pressure
- Slowed heart rate
- Increased focus
- Calmed nervous system
- Reduced insomnia
- Improved digestion
So if you’re feeling stressed or just need a moment of relaxation, breathe in for five counts, hold for seven and breathe out for eight. Even a few deep, slow breaths can help you achieve the benefits above.
5. Body Scan
Have you ever felt stressed and can’t seem to pinpoint why? If so, you’re not alone – it happens to the best of us! So the next time you feel this way, try a body scan.
Scanning your body can help reveal the places you hold tension, increase your mind-body connection and help you achieve deep relaxation. Here’s how to complete a body scan:
- Find a comfortable, safe place to sit and close your eyes.
- Take a couple of deep breaths and turn your attention to your body.
- Begin at the top of your head and slowly make your way down to your toes, taking as much or as little time as you need.
- Pay attention to any physical or emotional sensations that arise.
- Spend extra time breathing into the places that feel heavy or tight, and imagine releasing this tension through the breath.
Once you’ve scanned your entire body, reflect on how each part of your body feels compared to how it felt before. You can use this technique as often (or as quickly) as you need.
Meditation is the mother of all relaxation techniques. Whether you’re down in the dumps or on top of the world, there is always something positive you can draw from meditation. It comes in many forms – like deep breathing or body scans – and it’s nearly impossible to do it wrong.
Whether you prefer meditating through a physical practice (like yoga or a quiet walk) or by closing your eyes and clearing your mind, meditation is an important addition to your self-care routine. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress, promotes emotional health, enhances self-awareness and gently guides you toward a more relaxed state.
7. Repeat Mantras
Self-doubt is a relaxation killer. Negative, intrusive thoughts are bound to come up no matter how relaxed you are. However, replace them with positive mantras or affirmations instead of harboring them. Here are a few examples:
With a bit of practice, destructive thoughts will float by without a second thought. Reframing your mindset and opening yourself up to the possibility of positivity will create a headspace where you feel more comfortable relaxing and letting go.
8. Try Cold Therapy
Whenever mindfulness practices just won’t do it, try placing an ice pack or a package of frozen fruits or veggies on the back of your neck. Prolonged or chronic stress can cause an increase in our body temperature, disrupt our nervous system and slow our immune response.
Cold stimulates our body’s nervous system and signals our brain to release endorphins, adrenaline and oxytocin. In turn, stress decreases and relaxation increases – just ensure that whatever source of cold you’re using isn’t too cold. Try cold therapy for up to thirty minutes at a time.
9. Light Stretching
Light stretching is a great way to loosen muscle tension and increase blood flow. Like cold therapy, it encourages the brain to release endorphins, which provide a sense of tranquility. And, there’s no minimum to stretching practices to reap the benefits! We recommend adding a quick 5-minute stretch to your evening routine to wind down before bedtime.
10. Eat and Drink Well
Have you ever heard the saying you are what you eat? Believe it or not, there is scientific evidence that backs this statement! Eating and drinking well – that is, eating whole, organic foods – can reduce inflammation, support a well-functioning nervous and immune system, improve emotional health and encourage a relaxed mental state.
Implementing healthier foods and drinks into your diet will promote relaxation over time and make the above techniques much easier to practice.
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