Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress
Practicing even a few minutes per day can provide a reserve of inner calm.
We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one's grave illness. We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them.
Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress:
1. Breath focus: In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing)
2. Body scan: This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there
3. Guided imagery:For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.
4. Mindfulness meditation:This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future.
5. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong:These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements.
6. Repetitive prayer: For this technique, you silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus.
Try to practice for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help. But the longer and the more often you practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits and the more you can reduce stress.
What are your thoughts and practices on ways to relax?