Over time, stress can really take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Common complaints accompanying chronic and acute stress include headaches, tension, muscle stiffness or aches, chest pain, trouble concentrating or remembering things, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation, diminished sex drive, weight loss or gain, anxiety, irritability, social withdrawal, and plenty more. Stress can also exacerbate existing diseases and conditions and put you at higher risk for additional health concerns, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, breakouts of skin problems, and menstrual irregularities. Just reading it all is pretty stressful. If life at work is stressing you out day after day, it’s important to your short- and long-term well-being that you take steps to remedy the problem. Set aside even just a few minutes each day to try one or more of the following five at-home relaxation techniques. As the Mayo Clinic explains, relaxation techniques help melt away the stress, lower elevated blood pressure and heart rate, stabilize your breathing, reduce the effects of high stress hormone levels, cut down on muscle tension and chronic pain, improve blood flow, promote more restful sleep, boost your focus and mood, and just generally keep you feeling your best.
There are lots of ways to meditate, but mostly it comes down to finding a way to focus one just one thing and tuning out everything else. Often, people focus on their breathing, an uplifting word or short phrase (known as a mantra), or a sound. If you use a mantra, bring it into sync with your breathing. Close your eyes and assume a comfortable but properly postured position in a room free of distractions. Concentrate only on your focal point until all other thoughts vanish.
This is similar to meditation, and can be combined with it for greater stress-busting effects, but it is its own technique that can become quite powerful with practice. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and place one open palm over your stomach. Take in slow, deep inhalations through your nose, feeling your abdomen swell and the air filling you up, then exhale gradually through your mouth, concentrating on your body emptying out the air.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Systematically tensing and relaxing muscles throughout your body is a great way to beat stress and especially for relieving some of its physical manifestations. Wear loose clothes or get naked and take a few minutes to chill out. Start with one foot, then move to the next; squeeze the muscles tight and hold it for 10 seconds, then ease off until the foot is totally limp. Pause for at least a few seconds between body parts and always do one side at a time; move up to your calves, then your thighs, hips, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and face. You’ll get better and better at isolating smaller muscle groups, with practice.
Yoga or Tai Chi
These movement-based relaxation exercises are best to do with a live, professional instructor to ensure proper technique and to prevent injury, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them at home. If you do take a class or hire a coach, practice what your learn at home. Another option is to invest in some instructional DVDs. The stretching, gentle movements, and held poses do wonders for your physical and mental health, and there’s plenty of room for progression as you improve your physique and capabilities.
Stimulate Your Senses
Engaging your senses with gentle, relaxing stimuli offers lots of opportunities for de-stressing. For example, put together a playlist of soothing sounds. Rain, the ocean, animals, and other natural sounds work well for many people, as do white noise machines; quiet, calming music is another way to go. Sitting peacefully with candles, incense, or essential oils giving off relaxing scents (aromatherapy) is another approach. Lavender, patchouli, jasmine, chamomile, bergamot, and geranium are commonly used.
Keep in Mind
It takes practice to get the hang of relaxation techniques. It also takes some time to start really noticing and appreciating the benefits. Be patient, practice, ask a professional for guidance if you need it, and pay attention to positive and negative signals from your body. You don’t want your efforts to relax to inadvertently become just another source of stress for you. Also, not every technique works well for every individual. If you’re not seeing improvement with some time and consistent effort, try something else.
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368 www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm