Types of Relaxation

Finding an effective relaxation technique may take time as different techniques will suit different people. The relaxation technique used by someone to help them get to sleep will be different from that required by someone who is looking for a way to revitalise themselves during the day.

The following list contains a few examples, but there are many more.

Deep Breathing

Most of the time we do not think about breathing. However, focusing on how you breathe and creating a slow, deep and even pattern will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed and can create a distraction from the causes of stress.

Visualisation Techniques

Visualisation involves using the imagination to go to a relaxing place. This could be somewhere you have previously visited, somewhere seen on the television or in a magazine or something entirely from your imagination. The knack with this technique is focusing on all the senses to experience in detail what can be seen, heard, smelt, tasted and felt within the chosen scene.

Some people find the use of gentle background music or photos of places with happy memories helpful and there are also tapes available that guide the listener through relaxing scenes. Finding the right combination of voice, speed of speaking, music and subject matter that works for you may take some experimentation.

Muscular Relaxation

There are a number of specific techniques that concentrate on relaxing muscle groups. In addition to producing a feeling of calmness and relaxation, these techniques help you to identify areas of the body where tension is held. However if you have existing problems with spasticity or stiffness in limbs, discuss this with a health professional before trying a muscle relaxation technique.

There are a number of books that detail techniques. Whilst the specifics of exercises may differ, the basics are the same.

  • Set aside time to concentrate on the exercises.
  • Lie or sit comfortably. You may prefer relaxing music to be playing.
  • Spend time concentrating on breathing

Stress Doesn’t Have to Rule Your Life

In a hyper-connected world, where you’re always trying to fit in one more thing, slowing down and relaxing can seem like the one thing your smartphone can’t do for you. But it’s important to remember to take some calming “me time” every day.

How come? Anxiety fires up your sympathetic nervous system, speeding your breathing and heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, tensing your muscles, and pumping stress hormones into your blood stream. Your brain is sharp and laser-focused. For better or worse, you’re ready for action.

At times, this fight-or-flight response is healthy and necessary—for instance, it helps you kick butt on that work presentation, catch the bus that’s about to pull away, or yank a small child out of harm’s way just in time. However, when anxiety becomes chronic, it may lower your immunity, potentially lead to heart disease, and even cause everyday ailments like headaches, back pain, stomach problems, and poor sleep. Fight back against stress with these five proven tension-tamers.

1. Take Five. Meditation is a powerful, natural way to reduce stress. If you’ve never tried it, it can seem intimidating—or even a little hokey. It’s actually very easy, though, and it takes only a few minutes to help yourself chill out. Set a timer for five minutes in a quiet space, close your eyes, sit still, and simply take slow, deep breaths. To avoid letting it turn into five minutes of ruminating about your stress, focus on your breath. For example, try breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts, and then breathing out for eight counts.

2. Try a Mind-body Workout. For the most goal-oriented, sitting still can be pure torture. But a mind-body workout, like yoga, combines the relaxation benefits of meditation with crossing a workout off your to-do list. Not bad!

3. Have a Good Laugh. Laughing triggers your stress response, and then simmers it down, leaving you relaxed and feeling good. Hang out with a friend who has a knack for telling funny stories, watch your favorite comedic movie or stand-up routine, or even watch a short, funny video online.

4. Erase Optional Stressors. Some experiences that cause anxiety can’t be avoided. For instance, if you don’t get along swimmingly with your boss or if you’re struggling to deal with a medical condition, there isn’t too much you can do about that. Some stress, on the other hand, is purely optional. So identify things that rile you up that you can nix. Does Facebook—or even a certain “friend”— always spike your blood pressure? Ban yourself from logging in, or at least un-follow friends whose political rants always make your shoulders get tense. Say no to coffee with that toxic frenemy. Don’t watch the evening news. You get the idea!

5. Wind Down Before Bed. Set aside anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime to allow your brain to gradually wind down. Put away work, shut down your phone, and, finally, turn off the TV. Giving your brain time to calm down will make the transition to dreamland more seamless, and may help you get more rejuvenation from your zzz’s.