There are exercises and relaxation techniques very easy to implement at any time. I show you 8 relaxation therapies that you can put into practice, separately or by merging some with others.
The body’s response to natural relaxation is a potent antidote to stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help activate this relaxation response.
Deep breathing to eliminate tensions
- Deep breathing to eliminate tensions
- How to practice deep breathing?
- Progressive muscle relaxation to relieve stress
- Method of mental relaxation
- Progressive muscle relaxation sequence:
- To relieve stress, try the following meditation techniques to achieve mindfulness:
- Beginning of a meditation practice
- Guided visualization to relieve stress
- Yoga to relieve stress
- What type of yoga is best for stress?
- Tips for the beginning of yoga practice:
- Tai Chi to relieve stress
- Autogenic training.
- Massage therapy to relieve stress
- Mindfulness as a relaxation technique
- When and where to practice Mindfulness
- Basic exercises
- Benefits of Mindfulness
- Autogenic Relaxation
- Autogenous relaxation exercises
Deep breathing is a simple, but powerful, relaxation technique. It is easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere and provides a quick way to keep stress levels under control. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music.
How to practice deep breathing?
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible for your lungs. When you breathe deeply from the abdomen, instead of short breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The next time you feel stressed, take a minute to slow down and take a deep breath:
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on the chest and the other on the stomach.
Inhale through the nose. The hand on the stomach should rise. The hand on the chest should move very little.
Exhale through the mouth, expelling the air as much as you can while contracting the abdominal muscles. The hand on the stomach should move when exhaling, but the other hand should move very little.
Continue breathing through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Try to inhale enough air so that the lower part of the abdomen rises and contracts. Count slowly while you exhale.
If you have difficulty breathing from the abdomen while sitting, try to lie on the floor. Place a small book on your stomach and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and fall as you exhale.
Progressive muscle relaxation to relieve stress
Method of mental relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is another effective and widely used strategy to relieve stress. It is a two-stage process in which, systematically, the muscles of different groups in the body are tensed and relaxed.
With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension represents your muscles, as well as a total relaxation that you feel in different parts of the body. This awareness helps to detect and counteract the first symptoms of muscle tension that accompanies tension. And as your body relaxes, so does your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.
Progressive muscle relaxation sequence:
- Right foot
- Left foot
- Right thigh
- Left thigh
- The hips and buttocks
- The right arm and the hand
- The left arm and the hand
- Neck and shoulders
Steps to follow:
- Loosen your clothes, take off your shoes and make yourself comfortable.
- Take a few minutes to relax, breathe and take slow, deep breaths.
- When you are relaxed and ready to start, focus your attention on your right foot. Take a moment to observe how you feel.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as hard as you can. Hold the position counting to 10.
- Relax the right foot. Concentrate on how the tension evaporates and you feel how your foot runs out of strength and loose.
- Stay in this state of relaxation for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- When you are ready, move your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly through your body: legs, abdomen, back, neck, face. Contract and relax the muscle groups on the fly.
Mindfulness: Meditation to relieve stress.
Mindfulness meditation is particularly effective in reducing stress, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions. Mindfulness is the quality of being fully engaged in the present moment, without analyzing or “over-thinking” the experience. Instead of worrying about the future or reliving the past, conscious meditation changes the focus on what is happening right now.
To relieve stress, try the following meditation techniques to achieve mindfulness:
Exploration of the body: when you explore the body you cultivate attention, focusing attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, start with the feet. However, instead of tensing and relaxing the muscles, you just have to focus on the way each part of your body feels, without labeling the sensations as “good” or “bad”.
Meditate while walking: it is not necessary to be seated to meditate. Meditating while walking implies focusing on the physical aspect of each step: the sensation of the feet touching the ground, the rhythm of the breath as you move and feel the wind on your face.
Eat consciously: try to eat carefully. Sit at the table and focus all your attention on food (without television or newspapers). Eat slowly, fully enjoy and concentrate on every bite.
The meditation of full attention is not equal to going through the clouds. It is an effort to maintain your concentration and to return to the present moment when your mind is distracted. With the usual practice, conscious meditation really changes the brain, reinforcing the areas associated with joy and relaxation, and weakening those involved in negativity and stress.
Beginning of a meditation practice
All you need to start meditating is the following:
A quiet environment Choose an isolated place in your home, office, garden, place of worship, or outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.
A comfortable position Make yourself comfortable but avoid lying down as this can lead to you falling asleep. Feel with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can sit in the lotus position.
A point of focus. Choose a meaningful word or phrase and repeat it throughout your session. You can also choose to focus on an object in your environment to improve your concentration, or alternatively, you can close your eyes.
Be an observer, not a critic. Do not worry about the distractions that go through your mind or how well you are doing. If intrusive thoughts occur during the relaxation session, do not fight them. Instead, gently rotate your attention back to your focus point.
Guided visualization to relieve stress
Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variant of traditional meditation that can help relieve stress. When used as a relaxation technique, guided visualization consists of imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all the tension and anxiety. Establish what is most reassuring to you, be it a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet, wooded valley. You can do this visualization exercise on your own, with the help of the therapist, or through an audio recording.
Close your eyes and let your worries disappear. Imagine your resting place. Imagine it as vividly as possible: you can see it, hear it, smell it and feel it. Guided imagination works better if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible. For example, if you are thinking of a beach:
- Watch the sunset over the water
- Listen to the sound of the waves
- The smell of the sea
- Feel the freshwater on your bare feet
- The taste of sea salt on your lips.
Yoga to relieve stress
Yoga is an excellent technique to relieve stress. It is a series of movements and pauses in combination with deep breathing. The physical and mental benefits of yoga provide a natural counterweight to stress and strengthen the relaxation response in your daily life.
What type of yoga is best for stress?
Yoga classes that emphasize slow, steady movements and gentle stretching are better for stress relief. Look for labels like soft, to eliminate tensions, or for beginners. The yoga of energy, with its intense poses and focused on fitness, is not the best option. If you are not sure if a yoga class is appropriate for stress relief to ask the teacher.
Since injuries can occur when yoga is practiced incorrectly, it is best to learn by attending group classes or hiring a private teacher. Once you have learned the basics, you can practice alone or with others, adapting your practice as you see fit.
Tips for the beginning of yoga practice:
Consider your fitness level and any other medical problems before signing up for a yoga class. There are many yoga classes for different needs, such as prenatal yoga, yoga for the elderly and yoga for adaptation (modified by yoga for the disabled).
Look for a low-pressure environment where you can learn at your own pace.
You can also look for yoga classes at local gyms or specialized yoga centers. Sports societies often offer yoga classes at reduced prices.
Tai Chi to relieve stress
If you have ever seen a group of people in a park that move slowly in tune, you have probably witnessed Tai chi. Tai chi has its own rhythm of body movements. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation and conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Although tai chi has its roots in martial arts, today it is mainly practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body and reducing stress. As in meditation, professional tai chi focuses on breathing and maintaining attention in the present moment.
Tai chi is an affordable option for people of all ages and fitness levels, including seniors and those recovering from injuries. Once you have learned the movements, you can practice anywhere, at any time, by yourself, or with others.
With autogenous training, we learn to create physical sensations of heat, heaviness, and relaxation in different parts of our body.
Schultz’s autogenous relaxation is a practice that not only helps reduce stress, but also the stresses of daily life, anxiety, mild depression and sleep disorders.
Autogenic relaxation is a kind of self-hypnosis that consists of the different parts of the body (shoulders, arms, legs, feet …) becoming hotter and heavier. These physical sensations are a sign that the technique is paying off.
Schultz’s method of relaxation or autogenic training is practiced through silently repeated phrases, such as “my arm is heavy” or “I am completely relaxed.” The following exercises are performed:
- The weight exercise.
- The heat exercise.
- Breathing exercises.
- Exercise of the heart
- The solar plexus exercise (navel area).
- Forehead (head) exercise.
- How to relax with autogenous training.
- During the practice of autogenic training exercises, we must repeat several statements/instructions.
Every statement we say in our mind refers to a specific part of the body, followed by a state of peace and well-being. Each statement is repeated mentally five times before moving on to the next. Do not rush to finish each exercise.
Enjoy the feeling of relaxation, well-being, and peace that comes over you, before moving on to the next exercise.
After choosing the relaxation position (lying or sitting), close your eyes during the practice training and start your relaxation session. These are the phrases you can say mentally while you keep your attention on that part of the body:
- I’m completely relaxed (repeat 1 time)
- My right arm is heavy (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (repeat 1 time)
- My left arm is heavy (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (1 time)
- My heart beats quietly and normally (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (1 time)
- My breathing is calm and balanced (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (1 time)
- My solar plexus (stomach) is hot and radiates heat (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (1 time)
- My forehead is nice and fresh (6 times)
- I’m completely relaxed (1 time)
- Relaxing with autogenic training is a powerful technique that will have more effect if practiced frequently.
Massage therapy to relieve stress
Getting a massage provides deep relaxation. As the muscles of your body relax, so does your mind. You do not have to go to a spa to enjoy the benefits of massage. There are many simple self-massage techniques you can use to relax and relieve stress.
Mindfulness as a relaxation technique
It is a relatively modern term that consists of a practice of meditation. But in this case, it is only aimed at improving our quality of life, both physically and psychologically. Mindfulness techniques focus on full awareness and self-acceptance. If we follow their relaxation exercises, they will make the conscience relax.
When and where to practice Mindfulness
If we are beginners in this technique of mental relaxation, the ideal is to start with about 10 minutes. Little by little, we will increase the time until reaching the half-hour. But only when we already have some practice. You will have to look for a room, from where no noise is heard. You must have comfortable clothes and disconnect all kinds of devices that you have around you and that may bother you.
We must sit down, with the back stretched and forming a right angle. The arms will be relaxed and you will place them on both sides but without exerting any kind of pressure.
The second step is to focus on breathing. We must concentrate on it so that we feel it. We must notice how it goes through the whole body, oxygenate it.
When we feel the body slightly relaxed, we can demonstrate it by saying a word. One of the most frequent in this case is ‘Ohm’, but you can also pronounce: “I feel good”, “good”, etc.
In our mind, we are going to make the recreation of a quiet place. A place that invites us to relax. You can visualize both a real area and imagine it.
When you have that very clear image, you will imagine a staircase that brings you closer to that place. You will step on each step and you will tell it.
Little by little, we will arrive at the most advanced exercises. They manage to leave the mind completely blank. Thus, at that moment and when some thoughts appear, we should not judge them, but always maintain a neutral attitude. Although it seems easy to say, it is not at the time of being put into practice. With the relaxation exercises of Mindfulness, we will get another point of view of what surrounds us, getting stress to stand aside.
Benefits of Mindfulness
If you practice half an hour of this relaxation technique every day, you will be able to see how you relieve the symptoms of stress and depression. It can have a positive effect on pain points, improves concentration and memory.
This is another of the relaxation techniques, a bit similar to some we have seen. It consists of getting a quite deep relaxation, in order to say goodbye to stress. It is based on the sensations that language provokes in our bodies. It can be said that this technique achieves self-control in ourselves, through auto-suggestion. Although this may seem a bit complicated, it is not complicated at all.
Autogenous relaxation exercises
You have to start with a fairly deep breath. So, we will inhale for about 4 seconds, while the exhalation will last twice as long. That is about 8 seconds. With this, we will get the body to a state of calm, at the same time as concentration. You can help yourself repeating phrases like: “I’m really calm”, while you keep breathing.
Now, we must concentrate, close our eyes, keep breathing, while with each exhalation we will repeat: “I weigh my arms”. We will notice how this part of the body becomes heavier. Then, we will go to the lower extremities, as well as to the trunk or neck. The feeling of heaviness in all of them invades us. Adding the previous point and this, the time should not exceed 5 minutes.
At this point, we will go to the temperature. The order that we will give the brain is the same as the previous one but changing the heaviness by: “My arms are hot”. Similarly, we will go to the legs and other parts of the body. This session will be a couple of minutes.
After achieving the heaviness of the body, the increase in temperature, another change comes. In this, the technique focuses on breathing and the heartbeats in a calm manner. Peace is invading him, making the pace calm and peaceful. So relaxation is already making its effect.
Now, we focus on the abdominal part. You will think that there is heat in that area. You have to concentrate on the circulation of this part of the body. The temperature rises slightly, but the breath remains.
Finally, we will focus on the head. You need freshness, so you’ll concentrate on your mind getting fresher and fresher.
In each of the steps, you can repeat certain phrases such as: “My mind is very fresh”, “My abdomen is getting warmer,” etc, to help you concentrate. It does not have to be out loud if you see that so, you can not keep up with the breathing. Little by little you will perfect the technique that focuses on vital body parts, as well as heaviness, heat, and cold.