Using these stress relief techniques can help you to feel calmer and more relaxed explains Fred Auzenne. Once you learn the basics of relaxation, you may be able to use them even when you are feeling stressed or anxious, to calm down so you can think more clearly.
It’s worth mastering these techniques so that they become part of your daily life.
1. Controlled Breathing
This is one of the simplest ways to relieve stress, but it only works if you keep doing it for long enough! Deep breathing exercises are often recommended by doctors as a good way to lower blood pressure and get more oxygen into your system – which will make you feel better in general. It takes about 20-30 minutes before the breathing has an effect on your body, so you have to persevere for a while when learning this technique.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This exercise involves tensing and then relaxing each part of your body in turn, to get yourself used to the process of letting go. It’s quite simple – you tighten muscles very slightly (until they’re just perceptibly tight) and then relax them, ideally sitting or lying comfortably at first, but later whenever suits you. Tensing and relaxing each muscle group is said to make it easier to do the same thing when stressed or anxious, because you will be used to the feeling of tension and relaxation.
3. Visualization Exercises
These exercises can help you feel calmer if done properly – they don’t work by magic, you just have to keep practicing them says Fred Auzenne. They involve imagining a positive and peaceful scene so vividly that it calms your mind and reduces anxiety. It’s helpful to picture yourself in the most relaxing place you can think of – perhaps by the sea or in a forest, or even somewhere very quiet indoors. Imagine what you would see, hear and smell there, as well as how things feel on your skin.
This is an age-old technique for relieving stress which has lately been validated by science – people who meditate do better at controlling their breathing than those who don’t! There are lots of forms of meditation but basically they all involve sitting quietly with your eyes closed for 10-20 minutes, focusing on your breathing. Many people find that they feel more relaxed after meditating than before, even if they were stressed when they started out.
Massage is a great way to reduce stress because it calms you down by triggering the body’s relaxation response says Fred Auzenne. It also feels pleasant and may boost your immune system – but beware of asking someone else to give you a massage unless they know what they’re doing! If in doubt, ask for a neck and shoulder massage only, where most of the muscles are fairly easy to locate and manipulate with moderate pressure. You could also try having one from a qualifying trained masseur or masseuse – check for recommendations from friends first.
6. Have Fun!
It sounds obvious, but most of us forget to make time for fun in our busy lives! This is a good way to reduce stress. It can be hard to find the energy or motivation sometimes, but if you make having fun your priority it will work wonders on your stress levels – and probably improve your health in general too. Go out with friends, play games with the kids, take up an old hobby or do something new that you enjoy.
Certain scents are famous to have soothing effects when inhaled – lavender is one of the most effective. Try lighting some scented candles in the evening… they don’t need to give off much smell for you to benefit from it (if any). You could also try putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow before going to bed.
8. Get Moving!
As well as helping you to relax, exercise helps you sleep better and makes you feel less stressed the next day because it releases endorphins – natural mood-enhancers in the body. It can take courage to start exercising when you’ve been neglecting yourself for so long, but remember that some mild-to-moderate activity will give you more energy than you have right now! Whatever exercise appeals to you most will help, so find an activity that suits your lifestyle – for example joining a local sports club, taking up running or cycling with friends, or practicing Tai Chi at home.
9. Be Social!
This is another age-old technique which is now support by science – the most recent study show that people who are lonely have more health problems than those with stronger social networks explains Fred Auzenne. Make an effort to spend time with friends, family or even neighbors you don’t know yet, whether it’s over a drink after work, a trip into town or just sharing some jokes on email.
In conclusion, it is clear that there are many ways to reduce stress and anxiety, from simple techniques such as deep breathing, massage and meditation to socializing with friends. The best way to find out what works for you is by trying out different approaches!