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For many of us, relaxation means flopping on the couch and zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress.Calming Meditation Music to Relax the Mind and Body
You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, yoga, or tai chi. While you may choose to pay for a professional massage or acupuncture session, for example, most relaxation techniques can be done on your own or with the aid of a free audio download or inexpensive smartphone app.
The right technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind to elicit the relaxation response. That means it may require some trial and error to find the technique or techniques that work best for you. Once you do, regular practice can help reduce everyday stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your energy and mood, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music. While apps and audio downlo can guide you through the process, all you really need is a few minutes and a place to sit quietly or stretch out.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. Progressive muscle relaxation is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.
With regular practice, it gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of your body. This can help you react to the first s of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles. Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense those muscles intended. This is a type of meditation that that focuses your attention on various parts of your body.
Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety. You can practice visualization on your own or with an app or audio download to guide you through the imagery. Close your eyes and imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can: everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible. For example, if you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake:. Enjoy the feeling of your worries drifting away as you slowly explore your restful place. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.
This is normal. You may also experience feelings of heaviness in your limbs, muscle twitches, or yawning. Again, these are normal responses. What you may not be aware of is that you can experience some of the same benefits at home or work by practicing self-massage, or trading massages with a loved one. Try taking a few minutes to massage yourself at your desk between tasks, on the couch at the end of a hectic day, or in bed to help you unwind before sleep. To enhance relaxation, you can use aromatic oil, scented lotion, or combine self-message with mindfulness or deep breathing techniques.
A combination of strokes works well to relieve muscle tension. Try gentle chops with the edge of your hands or tapping with fingers or cupped palms. Put fingertip pressure on muscle knots. Knead across muscles, and try long, light, gliding strokes. You can apply these strokes to any part of the body that falls easily within your reach. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head:. Mindfulness has become extremely popular in recent years, garnering headlines and endorsements from celebrities, business leaders, and psychologists alike. So, what is mindfulness?
Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Some of these practices bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing or a few repeated words. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations. Mindfulness can also be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, or eating. Using mindfulness to stay focused on the present might seem straightforward, but it takes practice to reap all the benefits.
The idea of exercising may not sound particularly soothing, but rhythmic exercise that gets you into a flow of repetitive movement can produce the relaxation response. Examples include:. While simply engaging in rhythmic exercise will help you relieve stressadding a mindfulness component can benefit you even more. As with meditation, mindful exercise requires being fully engaged in the present moment, paying attention to how your body feels right now, rather than your daily worries or concerns.
Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, focus on the sensations in your limbs and how your breathing complements your movement. And when your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return your focus to your breathing and movement. Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. Although almost all yoga classes end in a relaxation pose, classes that emphasize slow, steady movement, deep breathing, and gentle stretching are best for stress relief.
Tai chi is a self-paced series of slow, flowing body movements. By focusing your mind on the movements and your breathing, you keep your attention on the present, which clears the mind and le to a relaxed state. Tai chi is a safe, low-impact option for people of all ages and fitness levels, including older adults and those recovering from injuries. Try setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. Set aside time in your daily schedule.
If possible, schedule a set time once or twice a day for your practice. If your schedule is already packed, try meditating while commuting on the bus or train, taking a yoga or tai chi break at lunchtime, or practicing mindful walking while exercising your dog. Make use of smartphone apps and other aids. Many people find that smartphone apps or audio downlo can be useful in guiding them through different relaxation practices, establishing a regular routine, and keeping track of progress. Expect ups and downs.
Sometimes it can take time and practice to start reaping the full rewards of relaxation techniques such as meditation. The more you stick with it, the sooner the will come. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum. University of New Hampshire. Meditate — A series of meditations available as part of the Calm app.
Relaxation technique 1: Deep breathing With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. How to practice deep breathing Sit comfortably with your back straight.
Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little. Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little. Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls.
Count slowly as you exhale. A five-minute self-massage to relieve stress A combination of strokes works well to relieve muscle tension. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head: Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Next, use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips.
Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides. Now massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your eyebrows to your temples. Finally, close your eyes. Cup your hands loosely over your face and inhale and exhale easily for a short while.
Sit on a comfortable chair with your back straight. Close your eyes and find a point of focus, such as your breathing—the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth or your belly rising and falling—or a meaningful word that you repeat throughout the meditation.
Running Walking Swimming. Dancing Rowing Climbing. What type of yoga is best for stress? Satyananda is a traditional form of yoga.
It features gentle poses, deep relaxation, and meditation, making it suitable for beginners as well as anyone aiming primarily for stress reduction. Hatha yoga is also a reasonably gentle way to relieve stress and is suitable for beginners. Alternately, look for labels like gentlefor stress reliefor for beginners when selecting a yoga class. Power yogawith its intense poses and focus on fitness, is better suited to those looking for stimulation as well as relaxation.
Get more help. University of New Hampshire Recommended resources that require a fee Meditate — A series of meditations available as part of the Calm app. Print PDF.Massage relax your mind and body
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