With the hectic pace and demands of modern life, it is very common for people to feel stress. When you are under stress, you can feel tired and run down, unhappy, impatient and frustrated. There are several techniques available that involve learning how to control your body’s responses to stress or anxiety so that you feel relaxed and calm. Here are some of the most popular meditation and relaxation techniques you can practice to help you reduce the stress you feel.
One of the easiest techniques for relaxing is deep breathing and it is something you can do at anytime, anywhere. When you are feeling stress, your body’s automatic reaction is to take shallow, rapid breaths which can increase your stress response. By taking deep, slow breaths you can turn on your body’s relaxation response. Deep breathing involves either sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, putting one hand on your stomach just under the rib cage and slowly breathing in through your nose. Exhale slowly through your mouth until your lungs are empty and then repeat several times until you feel relaxed.
When you are meditating, you can let go of those everyday worries and literally “live in the moment”. People who meditate regularly report that they felt better physically, mentally and spiritually. To meditate, you need to find a very quiet spot where you can be alone and free of distractions. While you may think you have to sit with your legs folded and hands resting comfortably on your knees, all you really need to do is find a way to sit that is comfortable for you. Then just focus on your breathing while trying to keep your mind from wandering. You may be tempted to start thinking about your to-do list or what you are going to make for dinner, so if this happens just gently guide your thoughts back to your breath. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but look at the ground with a soft focus as you breathe in and out. By meditating like this for just 10 to 20 minutes a day, you will be able to better cope with those stressors you face everyday so you feel more in control and relaxed.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental well-being. There are several sects or “paths” of yoga which have been developed over the years. Westerners are the most familiar with Hatha yoga which uses exercise as a means to mental and physical harmony. Hatha yoga involves slowly stretching the muscles while breathing in certain rhythmical patterns.
By taking part in a yoga class that is taught by a qualified instructor, you will learn how to use yoga to ease both physical and emotional tension. This will ultimately help you battle stress so that you are more relaxed and at ease. If you have never done yoga before, be sure to sign up for a beginner’s class so you can begin at a slower pace and not feel intimidated by more advanced yoga students.
As with any new skill you are trying to learn, daily practice is important in order to master any of these techniques. While these are a few of the most popular meditation and relaxation techniques, there are several more including tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery. When choosing a technique, consider your needs, preferences, fitness level and how you tend to react to stress. The right technique is the one that resonates with you and which fits your lifestyle so you can practice it often. You may find that alternating or combining several techniques will keep you motivated while providing you with the best results.
If stress and anxiety are issues that you struggle with, seeking therapy may be helpful. It can be difficult to deal with chronic stress all on your own. That is why my work with clients who suffer from intense anxiety focuses on both providing them with support and helping them develop the tools necessary to lower their stress and improve their overall happiness and well-being. Please feel free to contact me to learn more about the type of therapy and counseling services that I offer.