With the current financial downturn, many of us are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and uncertainty, but relaxation techniques can reduce negative responses to stress and help you enjoy a better quality of life.
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help your quest for stress management. It isn’t just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the wear and tear of life’s challenges on your mind and body.
Whether you have a lot of stress in your life or you’ve got it under control, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques isn’t hard. Explore these simple techniques to get started on de-stressing your life and improving your health.
Practicing relaxation techniques can improve how you physically respond to stress by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Reducing the need for oxygen
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension
You may also gain these overall health and lifestyle benefits from relaxation techniques:
- Fewer physical symptoms, such as headaches and back pain
- Fewer emotional responses, such as anger and frustration
- More energy
- Improved concentration
- Greater ability to handle problems
- More efficiency in daily activities
Types of relaxation techniques
Although health professionals such as complementary and alternative medicine practitioners can teach relaxation techniques, you can also learn some on your own. Relaxation techniques usually involve refocusing your attention to something calming and increasing awareness of your body. It doesn’t matter which technique you choose. What matters is that you try to practice relaxation regularly.
Here are some of the main types of relaxation:
- Autogenic relaxation. In this technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to help you relax and reduce muscle tension. You may imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm, one by one.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique focuses on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation, and you become more aware of physical sensations. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
- Visualization. In this technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Try to use as many senses as you can, including smells, sights, sounds and textures. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the warmth of the sun, the sound of crashing waves, the feel of the grains of sand and the smell of salt water. You may want to close your eyes and sit in a quiet spot.
Other relaxation techniques you can include that you may be more familiar with are:
- Tai chi
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your health and general well being. Taking even 10 minutes out of your day to relax your body and mind can do wonders. One of the most important ways to help get through these difficult times is to take the time to take care of your health by taking care of yourself.
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