Table of Contents
- The benefits of relaxation techniques
- Types of relaxation techniques
- 8.- Yoga
- Relaxation techniques require practice
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help manage stress. Relaxation is not just about tranquillity or enjoying a hobby. It is a process that lessens the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you deal with everyday stress and stress related to various health problems, such as heart disease and pain.
Whether your stress is out of control or you already have it under control, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy. In addition, relaxation techniques are generally free or low-cost, pose little risk, and can be done almost anywhere.
Explore these simple relaxation techniques, and start reducing stress in your life and improving your health.
The benefits of relaxation techniques
When you have a lot of responsibilities and chores or are facing the demands of illness, relaxation techniques may not be a priority in your life. But that means you could be missing out on the health benefits of relaxation.
Practicing relaxation techniques can have many benefits, including the following:
- Decreased heart rate.
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decreased respiratory rate
- Improved digestion
- Maintenance of normal blood sugar levels
- Decreased stress hormone activity
- Increased blood flow to major muscles
- Decreased muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improved concentration and mood
- Improved sleep quality
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased anger and frustration
- Increased confidence to cope with problems
To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as positive thinking, seeking humor, problem-solving, time management, exercise, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.
Types of relaxation techniques
Health professionals, such as complementary medicine specialists, medical doctors, and psychotherapists, can teach you various relaxation techniques. But, if you prefer, you can also learn some relaxation techniques on your own.
In general, relaxation techniques involve focusing your attention on something relaxing and increasing your body awareness. It doesn’t matter which relaxation technique you choose. What matters is that you try to practice relaxation techniques regularly to reap the benefits.
Here are some types of relaxation techniques:
1.- Autogenic relaxation
“Autogenic” means ‘coming from within you’. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress.
You repeat words or recommendations in your mind that can help you relax and reduce muscle tension. For example, you might imagine a calm environment and then focus on relaxed, controlled breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg, one at a time.
2.- Progressive muscle relaxation
In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing each muscle group and then relaxing it.
This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and muscle relaxation. You can begin to become more aware of physical sensations.
In a progressive muscle relaxation method, you start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes, and gradually work your way up to your neck and head. You can also start at the head and neck and work downward toward the toes. Contract the muscles for about five seconds, then relax them for 30 seconds, and repeat.
In this relaxation technique, you can form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calm place or situation.
To relax with visualization, try to incorporate as many of your senses as you can, such as smell, sight, hearing, and touch. For example, if you imagine yourself relaxing in the ocean, think of the smell of saltwater, the sound of crashing waves, and the warmth of the sun on your body.
It is advisable to close your eyes, sit in a quiet place, loosen your tight clothes and concentrate on your breathing. Try to concentrate on the present and think positive thoughts.
4.- Deep breathing
There is a close relationship between breathing and relaxation, if we relax our breathing becomes calmer and vice versa, when we breathe slowly we can acquire a state of relaxation.
Inhale deeply through your nose and let your abdomen fill with air and expand slightly. Exhale as you relax and let all the air out through your nose. Bring one hand to the abdomen, just below the navel, and the other hand to the upper chest.
Relaxing massages consist of both caressing the skin and exerting pressure on certain points of the body to relieve accumulated tension.
By touching the skin in the right way, deeper areas of the body can be stimulated. So relaxing massages are an excellent option to combat various physical discomforts and stress.
Meditation can produce a state of deep relaxation and a calm mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of confusing thoughts that may be filling your mind and causing you stress. This process can result in an enhancement of physical and emotional well-being.
7.- Tai Chi
Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into an elegant form of exercise that is now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate. And almost anyone can do it.
Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn how to control some of your body functions, such as your heart rate. During biofeedback, you are connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information about your body.
This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the results you want, such as pain relief. Basically, biofeedback gives you the ability to use your mind to control your body, often to recover from illness or improve physical performance.
10.- Music therapy
Music helps us relax because it acts on the nervous system. According to the U.S. Sleep Foundation, music helps lower heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing muscles and slowing breathing.
Scents influence our mood. For example, lavender has an immediate relaxing effect that calms the nervous system and even helps relieve pain. Sandalwood oil calms the most intense nerves and promotes concentration. Bergamot oil relaxes and improves skin conditions, or rose essential oil improves mood.
Hydrotherapy promotes blood circulation, produces a relaxing effect on the muscles, reduces muscle contractions, produces an analgesic effect thanks to vasodilatation and relaxation effect.
Relaxation techniques require practice
As you learn relaxation techniques, you can become more aware of muscle tension and other physical sensations of stress. Once you know what the stress response feels like, you can make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique the moment you begin to feel the symptoms of stress. By doing this, you can prevent stress from getting out of control.
Remember that relaxation techniques are skills. As with any skill, the ability to relax improves with practice. Be patient with yourself. Don’t let your effort to practice relaxation techniques become another stressor.
If one relaxation technique doesn’t work for you, try another technique. If none of your efforts to reduce stress seems to work, talk to your doctor about other options.
Also, be aware that some people, especially those with severe psychological problems and a history of abuse, may experience feelings of emotional discomfort with some relaxation techniques. Although this is uncommon, if you feel emotional discomfort during relaxation techniques, stop what you are doing and consider talking to your doctor or mental health care provider.