To relax, you have to activate the body’s natural relaxation response, and watching TV when you get home, lying down or sleeping are not the best ways.
The stress relaxation techniques that we will explain are much more effective and with them you will get results. However, to start these exercises and their benefits, you will need to change some habits.
Reasons that cause stress
- Too much work
- Bad environment in your company
- Workplace harassment
- You do not yet control the tasks to be performed at your job
- You don’t have a job
- Poor relationship with a partner
- You have too many tasks to take care of: children, home, work, family…
Even if you find it difficult now, it is necessary to combat stress with some method, as it has very negative consequences on your health in the short, medium and long term.
Something important about stress
One thing that is often overlooked about stress is that it is necessary for life. You need it to survive, to learn, to achieve goals, to be creative. It would be good to feel some stress when:
- You have a difficult and important test
- You have an important project to finish for your company
- You have no job or income
- There is any real physical danger
However, stress at certain times should not be confused with chronic stress. Nor does positive stress, which provides energy and activation, with negative stress, which causes an excess of activation.
The problem is when the stress is excessive and continuous; it disrupts the state of balance of the nervous system and therefore needs to be returned to balance.
Negative consequences of stress
If you suffer stress for long periods of time, it can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health in your social relationships and at work:
- Increased blood pressure
- Lack of initiative
- Low productivity
- and many more.
Benefits of practicing relaxation techniques
If you practice them, these exercises and relaxation techniques will have great benefits in your life as:
- Reduce blood stress hormones
- Increase the sense of control
- Increase self-esteem
- Increase blood flow to the muscles
- Reduce muscle tension
- Reduce chronic pain
- Increased sense of well-being
- Decrease fatigue
- Decrease heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reduce feelings of hatred and frustration
Choose the technique that best suits you
Depending on your way of being and your tendencies, one technique or another will suit you better:
If you tend to become depressed, isolated, or discouraged: techniques that promote energy in your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise
If you tend to be angry, excited, nervous or agitated: meditation, deep breathing
If you tend to become immobile: mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga
Techniques to relax
To learn the most important thing about these techniques, I recommend you practice at least 10 minutes a day.
If you can practice for 20-60 minutes much better; the more you practice the more you will advance. It is a physical skill that can be learned just like any other.
What is the most interesting about these techniques is that you can practice them almost anywhere, so it will be a great resource in your life.
1-Progressive muscle relaxation
You may want to practice muscle relaxation for at least 15 minutes a day. The idea is to tighten the muscles and then relax them. That way, you release tension from your body and relax your mind.
Step by step:
- Wear comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes and sit in a comfortable seat.
- Relax with a deep breath (the one mentioned in the meditation) and close your eyes.
- You can use relaxing music
- When you are relaxed, focus your attention on your right forearm. How does it feel?
- Tighten your right forearm, squeeze it tight. Holds and counts to 8-10 seconds
- Relax your right forearm, focus on how the tension goes away and how you feel it, as you relax.
- Stay in that relaxed state for about 8 seconds, breathing deeply and slowly.
- Shifts attention to the left forearm and starts the sequence again.
With practice, this technique will make you know when you are in tension and a way to relax it.
Autogenous relaxation is a technique based on the sensations that arise in the body through the use of language. Your goal is to achieve deep relaxation and reduce stress.
It consists of 6 exercises that make your body feel warm, heavy and relaxed. In each exercise you use your imagination and verbal cues to relax your body in a specific way.
Step by step:
- It begins with deep breathing, with exhalation being twice as much as inhalation. For example: inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds.
- Inhale, close your eyes and as you exhale repeat 6-8 times: “My right arm is getting heavier and heavier” and concentrate on that feeling.
- Repeat 6-8 times: “my right arm weighs more and more” (like this with hands, arms, legs, back, neck, men, feet, thighs, legs)
- Repeat 6-8 times: “my right arm is warm” (so with hands, arms, legs, back, neck, men, feet, thighs, legs)
- Repeat 6-8 times: “my heart beats calmly and relaxed”
- Repeat 6-8 times: “my breathing is calmer and calmer”
- Repeat 6-8 times: “My stomach is getting warmer and warmer”
- Repeat 6-8 times: “My forehead is cold”
To meditate, simply sit upright in a comfortable seat, close your eyes and focus on saying – out loud or for yourself – a phrase or mantra like “I am calm”, “I love myself” or “I am at peace”.
You can also put a hand on your stomach to synchronize your breathing with the phrases.
Step by step:
- Sit up straight in a comfortable chair, putting one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.
- Breathe through your nose while breathing slowly for 4 seconds, so that your stomach hand is raised and your chest hand is raised very little.
- Hold the air for 4 seconds.
- Exhale the air through your mouth for 4 seconds slowly, expelling as much air as you can while contracting the abdomen.
The seconds indicated here are a suggestion, make modifications until you feel completely comfortable. Practice is the key.
4-Visualization & Guided Imagination
Visualization is a slightly different technique from meditation in which you will have to use all your senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste.
It is based on imagining a scene in which you will relax and let go of any feeling of tension.
Step by step:
- Find a quiet place and sit up straight and comfortable
- Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a quiet place as vividly as you can.
- Feel that you are in that place with all your senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste.
- Walk through the place, feeling the sensations; the colors, textures, smell, sound…
- Spend time feeling each sense: first what you see, then what you are touching, then what you hear…
For example: look at the sea and how the waves break, listen to the birds, feel the wind or the sand, smell the flowers….
- Feel those sensations and let any worry or thought flow. If you get distracted, go back to practice.
Want to discover other relaxation techniques? Read our category linked here.