Stress management is a topic that everyone seems to be talking about here lately. With busy work schedules, family obligations and the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time to slow down a bit and reflect on how to keep our stress levels to a minimum.
The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes a person’s physical and emotional responses to stress. You can elicit the relaxation responses by practicing the following relaxation methods:
- Deep breathing – As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations. Breath focus can be especially helpful for people with eating disorders to help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way. However, this technique may not be appropriate for those with health problems that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory ailments or heart failure.
- 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. Research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.
- Repetitive prayer – Silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus. This method may be especially appealing if religion or spirituality is meaningful to you.
- 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. A body scan can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection
- Guided imagery – For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus. Guided imagery may help you reinforce a positive vision of yourself, but it can be difficult for those who have intrusive thoughts or find it hard to conjure up mental images
- Yoga and Tai Chi – These ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts. They can also enhance your flexibility and balance.
Try some of these techniques at home and see how your stress levels decrease!