Stress and relaxation are two polar opposites. When you are stressed you are not relaxing and when you are relaxing you are free from stress. How can we find a way to relax in today’s fast paced lifestyle filled with all of the stressful factors that comes with it? It can be hard, but it is not impossible.
A typical day for most working families involves getting ready for work, getting the children off to school, meal preparation, fighting rush hour traffic, dealing with a daily dose of difficult people and the list goes on. After 8-10 hours of this constant barrage of activity, it is no wonder that most of us experience the all too familiar symptoms of stress overload such as neck and back tension, stomach disorders, anxiety, headaches, weakened immune system, depression and many more.
In reality, we just cannot eliminate all stress from our lives, however; there are several ways to learn how to cope with stress in a positive and healthy manner and lead a more balanced and happier lifestyle.
Stress and Relaxation DVD and Audio
There are a host of relaxation DVDs and CDs which include skilled therapists leading you step by step to a relaxing place of harmony and peace. Learn how to tune your mind from an anxious and tense state to a soothing and calm sense of reality even if your day has felt like it was the worst. Our minds are equipped with the ability to operate in mind over matter. All we need are the right tools to tap into our place of tranquility.
Music is melody for the soul. We all have certain tastes in music that can deliver us into memories of happier times or lull us to sleep. Think about what sounds relaxing to you. Is it the mighty ocean waves crashing into the shore? What about peaceful harmonious instruments ever so lightly humming a soft tune? Music combined with yoga activities or quiet meditation are great ways to calm the mind and have powerful effects for stress and relaxation.
Hypnosis (the induction of a deeply relaxed state) can play a tremendous role in stress and relaxation therapy. Practicing mind over body techniques and relaxing exercises in a hypnotized state has delivered amazing results for many people who suffer from stress and tension.
Deep Breathing Techniques
Do not wait until your stress hormones kick in the fight or flight feelings we all know too well. Learn what deep breathing techniques can do to help your body relax and release stress in a healthy manner. There are several ways to rid your body of anxiety and frustration with these simple exercises.
Balance can do your body good just by beginning with the breath. To start, inhale for a count of five, then exhale for a count of five — all through your nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. This helps calm the nervous system, increases focus and reduces stress. It is a great technique to practice before going to bed, especially if you have difficulty sleeping.
Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”
A yogi’s best friend, this breath is said to bring about calm and balance, and create an equal partnership with the right and left sides of the brain. Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the peak of your inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale through your right nostril. Continue this pattern for several (up to ten) breaths. This is a wonderful technique to help you feel more focused and energized.
Abdominal Breathing Technique
With one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath in through your nose, ensuring your diaphragm and not your chest inflates with enough air to create a stretch throughout your lungs. The goal is to take six or ten deep, slow breaths per minute for about ten minutes each day to promote immediate reductions to your heart rate and your blood pressure. This technique is ideal before participation in any sort of stressful event.
Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”
This breathing technique begins with a long and slow inhale, followed by a quick yet powerful exhale generated from your lower belly. Once you are comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through your nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths. This technique is good for when it is time for you to wake up, start your day or increase a positive feeling.
Quiet your ever-racing mind with meditation. Meditation is known to reduce anxiety, increase concentration, relax muscles and create an overall sense of well-being for stress and relaxation. The first part of your meditation should begin with mild stretching. Get your body loosened up and ready to absorb the quiet surrender that meditation brings. Focus your breath and after taking slow deep breaths to release pent up negative energy.
Soothing Baths, herbs and massages
One promising trick that works with stress and relaxation is to take soothing warm baths. Soaking your pores in warm water increases blood flow and proper circulation. Bath oils, salts and other personal care products that are naturally derived such as lavender will increase your sense of calm with the relaxing aroma it brings.
After a warm bath a healthy back or foot massage is in order. A massage is the perfect way to release tightened muscles, tension and promote stress reducing hormones to help you achieve total relaxation.