Chronic stress is the type of stress that can really wreak havoc on your health, and contribute to a host of stress-related health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and many more, including the common cold.
Learning relaxation techniques can help you restore your body to its natural state when you’re feeling stressed, and can potentially help you remain more resilient to stress that you face in the future—you can become less reactive to the stressors that you face, and can recover more quickly from it if you do react.
Relaxation can occur when you’re just sitting and watching t.v. in a lounge chair (which is what some people think of when they think of the word ‘relaxation’), but having a more structured plan for relaxation can be more helpful in the face of stress.
Here are some relaxation strategies to help you combat stress:
- Breathing Exercises
These can be your first line of defense against stress. Breathing exercises are wonderful for relaxation because they can be used anytime and at any place, they work quickly, and are easy to master. Read more on breathing exercises.
Many people try meditation and find that it’s a wonderful relaxation tool. Many others consider trying it, or try it a few times, and decide it’s not for them. If you’re in the second group, you may want to consider giving meditation another look—it’s excellent for relaxation as well as developing a more positive attitude and, if practiced long-term, greater resilience toward stress. Learn more about the benefits of meditation and different meditation techniques you can try.
Playing music is a great way to relive stress and promote relaxation for your family and friends as well as yourself. (Okay, maybe your co-workers won’t enjoy hearing your tunes as much as you do, so perhaps this one is best saved for home and in the car.) Because music brings real benefits in terms of wellness (music therapy is a growing field), it can be conveniently used effectively for relaxation as well. Learn more about using music for stress relief.
It may seem that exercise is the opposite of relaxation, but a good workout can actually make you feel more relaxed afterward for a few reasons. First, working out can be a good way to release stress and blow off steam. Second, the endorphins released during a good workout can aid relaxation quite nicely. Additionally, exercise can get you into a state of flow where it’s difficult to stay stressed—your body has to move toward relaxation as your stress response begins to reverse. Find ways to work exercise into a busy schedule.
- Have Fun!
Yes, these relaxation methods don’t all have to be clinical and practiced. Letting loose and having fun with your family and friends is an excellent way to relieve stress and experience relaxation. The problem is that people don’t always prioritize plain old ‘fun’ as an important part of life—they don’t fit time for it in their busy schedules (at least not nearly as much as they should) because they don’t realize the value of fun for balance as well as physical and emotional health. Well, now is the time to start working more fun into your life. See these tips on having fun for starters.