Is your hectic lifestyle getting you down? Your kids need help with homework, your husband can’t find his shirt, you have an unscheduled meeting at work, your dog needs a walk, and your friend needs your help—all at the same time! Do you ever wonder how you can get a minute to relax? If you are like most people, you might even have forgotten how to relax.
While a little stress can be helpful (sharpening your senses and your mind), too much stress can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health. Experts agree that relaxation techniques can bring you back into balance in just a few minutes. Try these simple techniques to help you relax and rediscover your bliss!
Meditate. While you may think you have to be an expert at “ommms” to meditate, think again. Any repetitive action can be a source of meditation. Breathing, walking, or focusing on a peaceful word can bring you back to the present moment and help you relax. Try it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day and see how much better you feel.
Breathe deeply. When you are stressed, your breathing gets shallower. Calmness is associated with deep, relaxed breathing. One of the easiest ways to relax is simply to take in a big deep breath through your nose and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Feel your entire body as you breathe in, and sigh as you exhale. Repeat this 3 to 4 times, whenever you need it.
Be present. It is so common to worry about the future or ruminate over the past, causing anxiety and fear. But neither of those activities helps you in any way. Living in the present moment is the only way to relax. Take a moment, express gratitude for what you have, and live “in the now.”
Drink hot tea. If you are a coffee drinker, consider going “green”—green tea, that is. Caffeinated coffee raises levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), while green tea, chamomile tea, and black tea calm the mind, lower levels of cortisol and leave those who drink them feeling more relaxed.
Try self-massage. If you feel tense and have no time to visit a massage therapist, try giving yourself a simple massage. Try rubbing your neck, forehead, wrist, hands, or legs. Take deep breaths while you do this and use some lotion for an added soothing effect.
Get a little help from your friends. One of the best ways to induce a relaxation response is to give someone you love a hug, snuggle with a loved one, cuddle your pet, or talk with a trusted friend. When you show love, your brain thinks more clearly and helps you find new solutions to problems with which you may be struggling. Physical contact also lowers blood pressure and decreases the production of stress hormones.
Sing a song. Music slows the heart rate and soothes your soul. When you are stressed, choose a relaxing song and help your heartbeat align with the tempo. Research shows that listening to 30 minutes of relaxing music may produce the same calming effects as taking anti-anxiety medication.
Shift Your Attitude. It takes only thirty seconds to shift your perspective. Take a moment to stop, breathe deeply, and think of anything that makes you smile—your child, your pet, a loved one, a wonderful vacation memory, anything that triggers a positive feeling. This positive thought calms and steadies your heart rhythm, making you feel relaxed and peaceful.
Take a time out. When was the last time you spent any time on yourself? Always being at the beck and call of others or constantly answering calls, emails, or surfing the Web gives you no down time. Your brain never slows, and this constant state of being “on” is exhausting. Try unplugging from the world, relaxing in nature, and taking time to read a good book, soak in a hot bath, or gaze at a beautiful sunset.
Take a hike. Find an exercise you enjoy, and then take the time to engage in it several times a week. Garden, walk, hike, dance, cycle, swim, or do yoga. Someone once said, “You are only a workout away from a better mood,” and it is true! If going solo is hard for you, find a workout buddy, get outdoors, and get moving!