22 Sep 10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast
If your hectic lifestyle has got you down, experts say relaxation techniques can bring you back into balance — some in 5 minutes or less.
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety.
Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.
The process can be simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes.
Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I am beautiful.”
Place one hand on your belly and feel it expand and contract with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply
Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing.
Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly.
Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head.
Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
Click here to download “Take a Breath” a 5-minute free self-hypnosis audio to help you breathe and relax
3. Be Present
You rush through dinner, hurry to your next appointment, and race to finish one more thing on your agenda.
Now try something different: Slow down. Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behaviour or task with awareness.
Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground.
Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food as you slowly chew.
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel the tension leave your body.
4. Reach Out
A good social support system is one of the most important resources for dealing with stress.
Talking to others — preferably face-to-face or at least on the phone — is a great way to better manage whatever is stressing you out.
5. Tune Into Your Body
Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day.
Lie on your back or sit with your feet on the floor.
Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.
Simply be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything.
For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that body part.
Repeat this process as you move your focus up your body, paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.
Place a warm heat pack around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes.
Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles.
Remove the wrap and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
7. Laugh Out Loud
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally, it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone.
It also increases brain chemicals called endorphins that boost your mood.
Lighten up by tuning into your favourite TV show or video, reading the comics or chatting with someone who makes you smile.
8. Crank Up the Music
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping) and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece.
You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat music– or singing at the top of your lungs!
9. Get Moving
You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high.
All forms of exercise — from yoga to walking — can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress.
You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
10. Be Grateful
Keep a gratitude journal or several (stash one by your bed, keep one in your purse, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life.
Being grateful for your life cancels out negative thoughts and worries.
Use these journals to savour good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health.
Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby.
When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.