7 Easy Techniques to Eliminate Stress
These days, with our busy lives juggling many tasks from work to a social life, stress and anxiety seem to come with the territory. But there are easy relaxation techniques you can try, often on your own, to trigger your body’s natural relaxation response, inducing a sense of calm and well-being. Whether your stress seems out-of-control or you are working to keep it under wraps, here are seven simple ways to handle your negative emotions the right way. Many of these are free or low-cost and can be used almost anywhere. Start de-stressing your life now.
This method employs visual imagery and awareness of your body to enter a deep state of relaxation. To use this technique, concentrate on the physical sensation of your breathing or heartbeat while you imagine your body as warm, heavy and relaxed. Picture a peaceful place and focus on different physical sensations, such as a steady heartbeat or heavy limbs, while you progress from the feet to the head.
With biofeedback, you train yourself to better your health by controlling certain bodily functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. Electrical sensors fastened to your skin monitor these processes, featuring them on a screen as a biofeedback therapist helps you change your functions and consciously draw out a relaxation response. Your thoughts come to control your body, and you can learn to use the method without sensors or a monitor.
This technique causes relaxation through controlling your breathing. Deliberately slow your breathing and concentrate on inhaling regular and deep breaths. In one specific method, you put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale slowly and deeply, pulling in as much air as possible. As you are doing this, your stomach should push gently against your hand. Hold your breath and then slowly exhale.
A form of hypnosis, in this technique you are guided to focus on images held in your brain that can instigate positive physiological changes in the body. These images are intended to be pleasant, such as places you find relaxing, replacing negative and stressful emotions. The guided imagery can be directed internally or by a practitioner by means of storytelling or descriptions that help you visualize peaceful mental pictures.
This relaxation method involves concentrating on tightening and relaxing each muscle group in the body. Beginning with the muscles in the toes and finishing with the muscles in the head, you slowly tense and then release each individual muscle group. The technique is frequently combined with breathing exercises or guided imagery.
Hypnotherapy is utilized to create a state of consciousness or trance-like state with deep relaxation and higher intensity of awareness and focus, somewhat like daydreaming. During this state, you feel relaxed yet more open to suggestions. A hypnotherapist guides you with verbal repetition and soothing mental images as you focus on eliminating stressful thoughts, planting suggestions. And – contrary to popular belief – you don’t lose control over your behavior. Over time, you can learn to induce this state in yourself for self-hypnosis.
This simple and cheap mind- body practice can be done whenever – at work, in line at the grocery store or while taking a walk. Create inner peace by concentrating your attention and ridding yourself of the stream of chaotic thoughts rumbling through your mind. When you meditate, you employ certain methods, such as a specific posture (sitting down, lying down, etc.), focused concentration, and an open attitude toward distractions. Several types exist, many rooted in ancient religious and spiritual traditions.
How These Techniques Work
When you experience stress, you enter the “flight or fight response,” in which your body prepares itself to fight or run. In the process, your heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing increase. Over time, these changes increase cholesterol levels, disrupt your intestines and depress your immune system. The opposite of this is the “relaxation response,” the decreased heart rate, muscle tension and breathing rate that occur when your body is relaxed. This response can counteract the damage of the flight or fight response, decreasing your body’s stress and helping stress-related pain, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and more.
Many of these techniques can be learned on your own or after short help from an experienced practioner, and practiced almost anywhere. Try a DVD or a book, or look for classes in your community. Relaxation techniques cannot cure or treat disease. While these techniques are safe, be sure to consult your health care provider before trying any new therapy. He or she can help you determine which relaxation technique is best for you. For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or The Mayo Clinic.