5 Simple and Proven Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress
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While historically stress has been extremely useful, allowing us to flee hungry tigers and lions; living with chronic stress in the present day can damage both our physical and mental health.
Whether it’s the stress of an endless to-do list or financial worries, it often feels as though we are on the brink of burnout from one end of the day to the other!
A stress relief meditation is just one of the ways to combat stress, and there’s a range of other short but sweet relaxation techniques that can be used throughout the day to help make a stressful time seem a little less overwhelming.
What are Relaxation Techniques?
Relaxation techniques are used to help reduce both the physical and mental symptoms of stress.
These symptoms may be tension throughout the body, headaches, high blood pressure and feelings of fatigue. These relaxation techniques vary in length from a few seconds to a few hours.
Relaxation techniques will activate your body’s relaxation response to slow your heart rate, your breathing and bring your body and mind back into equilibrium.
A stress relief meditation is just one of the ways to elicit this response, with progressive muscle relaxations, yoga, deep breathing and spending time in nature equally effective techniques.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
A progressive muscle relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing the muscle groups in your body. All too often we go about our day sub-consciously storing tension in our bodies, whether that’s in our neck, shoulders or lower back.
A progressive muscle relaxation encourages you to become aware of where and when you are storing tension, and what this tension feels like. You’ll eventually learn to notice when the first physical signs of stress emerge, learning to nip it in the bud by relaxing your body and subsequently your mind.
To practice a progressive muscle relaxation, find a comfortable seat and spend a few minutes tuning into your breath.
- When you are ready, begin to focus on your feet. Take a moment to notice if there’s any tension being stored in your feet.
- Slowly tense your muscles in your feet, squeezing as tightly as you can and holding for a count of 10.
- Relax your feet, and notice the feeling as the muscles soften and your feet become loose.
- Move up to your calves, tensing your muscles as hard as you can for 10 seconds before releasing them.
- Work through your body in this way, moving up to your thighs, buttocks, stomach, arms, shoulders and face.
- Once you have worked through all of the muscle groups, spend some time noticing how your body feels.
Stress Relief Meditation
Meditation is one of the best stress relievers, and it can be practiced for just a few minutes at a time to bring a sense of calm to your day. A stress relief meditation can either be practiced on a regular basis, or simply used as an emergency stress reliever!
A stress relief meditation is usually centred around mindfulness, a practice that aims to switch your focus to the here and now. Mindfulness can ease anxiety, stress, depression and other negative emotions, while also lowering your blood pressure and slowing your heart rate.
If you suffer from chronic stress, a stress relief course is perfect for you. The MindEasy Stress Relief Meditation course comprises 12 sessions to help you eradicate stress at its very deepest level.
Each of the meditations will provide you with a new tool to help ground yourself and find refuge from the stress of modern life.
You’ll learn to bring your body into a deep state of relaxation, release anxious thoughts and visualise positive outcomes to help you move through your day with a sense of calm.
Yoga and Thai Chi
Yoga and Thai Chi have long been thought of as great forms of physical exercise and highly effective stress relievers. Both practices involve moving with your breath, with a focus on both physical and mental control.
Both yoga and Thai Chi use slow and gently flowing body movements, combined with a focus on the breath.
Even just a few stretches at your office desk can help ease stress, but for maximum results, we highly recommend taking either a yoga or Thai Chi class.
Both use controlled breathing, meditation, physical movement and mental imagery to bring together the mind, body and spirit.
The benefits of yoga and Thai Chi are practically endless. A regular practice will help reduce stress, improve sleep, regulate cortisol levels, boost your immune system, and improve your sense of well-being.
Spend Time in Nature
Nature is one of the best stress relievers, but all too often we turn it down in favour of our favourite Netflix show or a 15 minute scroll on Instagram! Just a few minutes spent outside in nature can bring about a sense of peace and gratitude, allowing us to tackle the day with a more positive disposition.
There’s something indescribably peaceful about spending time in nature, and just a short walk outside has been shown to enhance a whole load of positive emotions, while reducing anger, fear and stress. Regular exposure to nature can boost both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Studies have suggested that just 20 minutes connecting with nature can boost your mood and reduce cortisol, so next time you need some respite from the stress of the day, try to get outside for a short amount of time. Combining nature with the endorphin-boosting effects of exercise will be even more beneficial.
And it doesn’t have to be a serene Swiss lake, nor a Caribbean beach to boost your mood! Even a short walk in your drizzly local park can help you to de-stress and find balance.
While a stress relief meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress, you may not have time for a guided session in the middle of the working day. Deep breathing is encouraged before a multitude of stressful situations to help calm the nervous system; whether that’s an important interview, a driving test or even childbirth!
Deep breathing is a natural painkiller and it can help calm your nerves and reduce anxiety. It can be practiced at any time of the day, and there’s a range of breathing exercises to try.
One of the best breathing exercises is the 4 7 8 technique. To practice this technique, close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of 4.
Hold your breath for the count of 7, then exhale through your mouth to the count of 8. This method of breathing can be practiced at any time of day, for a few minutes at a time.
- Stress is an involuntary response to feeling threatened or under pressure, and while it does have its uses, the level of stress that many of us live with on a daily basis can be highly damaging.
- Relaxation techniques can help calm the mind and body, reduce stress and slow our heart rates.
- A progressive muscle relaxation is a highly effective technique, as often we store tension in our bodies without even realising. Gradually work your way through your muscle groups, tensing and relaxing.
- A stress relief meditation course can be hugely beneficial if you suffer with any type of chronic stress. MindEasy’s Stress Relief Course teaches a range of techniques that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety .
- Yoga and Thai Chi are stress-relieving forms of exercise. They use deep breathing, controlled movement and a focus on the present to calm the body and mind.
- Spending time in nature is also deeply powerful, and just a 20 minute walk outside can help to regulate cortisol in the body.
- Deep breathing can calm the nervous system and is best utilised in the minutes leading up to a stressful situation, such as a driving test or job interview