It is 7:00 AM and the kids aren’t up yet. The dog must be let out. Your work clothes somehow never made it back from the dry cleaner, and you have a conference call you need to prepare for in less than an hour. Oh, and it’s your day for carpool. Have you ever had a day start out like this?
By 9:00 AM, you’re on your third cup of coffee and all you can think about is that beach vacation that is only…what, seven months away? In the meantime, life seems to only get busier with each passing day. Most of us live a quite stressful existence with little time to decompress before we’re thrown back into the high-octane world we live in. Living a stressful life like this for too long can contribute to chronic fatigue, debilitating stress, and even the early onset of disease. Finding a way to relax and manage stress is not only important – it can be a lifesaver. Here are seven relaxation techniques that can add years to your life:
Relaxation Technique 1: Visualization Therapy
Find quiet and visualize taking a journey to a calm, peaceful location. Try to imagine what it smells like there, what objects feel like, and what you may expect to hear. A serene day at the beach is a simple idea – as the sounds of crashing waves and squawking seagulls, the sensation of the sun’s rays, and the feel of the sand under your feet can be readily imagined. Whatever your “peaceful” place is, think of it for three to four minutes, close your eyes, and enjoy the mental vacation. Do this once or twice a day to calm your mind and reduce stress.
Relaxation Technique 2: Yoga
There is a reason yoga has been around for thousands of years – it truly works! Work with an instructor to create a series of relaxing yoga poses, as not all moves are designed equally. Some can actually create stress, and may not be ideally suited to your ultimate goal of better stress management. The Three-Part Breath, Reclined Bound Angle Pose, Knees-to-Chest Pose, Legs-up-on-a-Wall Pose, and Supported Corpse are five uniquely relaxing yoga poses.
Relaxation Technique 3: Tai Chi
Practicing Tai Chi, or the ancient Chinese tradition of graceful exercise, forces the participant to focus intensely on body movements and deep breathing. This system of exercise is a meditative form of movement that is low impact, basically no-cost, and non-competitive. The gentle physical exercise and positive mental health benefits of Tai Chi are perfectly suited to those who are simply stressed out and need a mental break.
Relaxation Technique 4: Sauna Time
One of the best ways to minimize stress, improve overall heart health, and detoxify the body is by spending time in a sauna. An infrared sauna is the best option for most users today, as reports indicate that not only are they generally more comfortable to use (less steam and far less intense heat settings), but they also detoxify the body much more effectively than traditional saunas. The stress reducing benefits are real, as saunas encourage deep breathing, better circulation, and can even encourage social connections if you have sauna sessions with others.
Relaxation Technique 5: Massage
This form of therapy is incredibly accessible today, as massage clubs seem to quickly spring up in strip malls across the nation daily. You no longer need to belong to a trendy club to access massage services, so work with your preferred masseuse to decide whether you could benefit from a Swedish massage, a deep tissue massage, a sports massage, or a trigger point massage that helps repair muscular injuries. Reducing stress and muscle pain are real-world benefits of this type of therapy.
Relaxation Technique 6: Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness refers to deliberately creating awareness of your immediate feelings and sensations throughout various moments of the day. The benefits are reduced anxiety, stress, and depression, less negative self-thought, and enhanced mood. Completing mindful activities is as simple as paying better attention to the people you interact with, looking at familiar situations and objects from a new angle, focusing on relaxed breathing techniques, and reawakening your senses to sights, sounds, and sensations that you’ve taken for granted over the years. Try to specifically focus on mindfulness exercises at least 15-20 minutes per day.
Relaxation Technique 7: Schedule “Blank Time”
We’re good at creating calendars full of important activities and reminders, but when is the last time you blocked out a chunk of time on a random day to set aside to do nothing? In other words, do you carve out time to sit on the couch for 20 minutes, and simply focus on your breathing? Or, do you allocate an hour to sitting on the back deck with a cup of tea – then just take in your surroundings? One of the best ways to minimize stress and relax your mind and body is by deliberately setting aside time for yourself.
Relaxation techniques can improve your physical, emotional, and mental health. By including stress management techniques into your daily routine, you’ll feel better, perform at a higher level, and even add years to your life.