There is no doubt that the human body has a great capacity to adapt to situations in which it is necessary to act.
The hormones secreted by the endocrine system and the way our brains interpret when we need to move quickly allow us to face stressful situations with good performance.
However, our daily life sometimes overwhelms us with excessive responsibilities and inoculates us with too high a dose of anxiety. This is why it is useful to know some stress relaxation techniques.
When should we use relaxation techniques?
The first thing to keep in mind when considering introducing relaxation techniques into our lives is that unlike the use of psychotropic drugs, relaxation exercises have no side effects. Its potency and effectiveness in combating anxiety is based on self-regulation, that is, the ability to perform actions by which we change the way chemicals are naturally secreted by our body.
So, relaxation techniques are a smart way to take advantage of the mechanisms that govern the human bodyInstead of “cheating” by introducing substances in the form of injections or pills. So, the only cost of using relaxation exercises is a little time and minimal effort.
Fight more than stress
Indeed, these stress-fighting techniques can be used until we feel stressed, as they can be introduced into our daily routine simply to prevent the onset of anxiety issues and, why not, for us. feel better and more rested.
But relaxation techniques should not be used when we are under stress. It should be clear that stress is a natural thing and can be present at such low levels that it is in fact useful to us. For some reason, there is something called stress, or positive stress.
When we need to use the relaxation exercise resource, it is when we notice that stress levels are high enough and being maintained long enough to negatively impact our quality of life.
Some examples of when to use them:
When we spend several days noticing anxiety that causes us problems.
When we have gone through a stage of mourning or loss.
When you experience stress at work or burnout syndrome.
When stress causes us to adopt obsessive behaviors, such as biting our nails or touching our hair all the time (trichotillomania).
At times when we feel harassed in one way or another (harassment at work), conflicts with neighbors, etc. Of course, relaxation techniques must be accompanied by measures that make us stop suffering from this harassment.
At the stages where there is a bad family climate or problems in the relationship.
When the sheer number of tasks and responsibilities overwhelms us, or when we struggle to balance work and personal life.
The benefits of relaxation exercises
The benefits of using relaxation techniques depend, in part, on the type of exercises we use. However, in general terms, the benefits that we will get by putting relaxation techniques into our lives are as follows:
They lead us to a feeling of well-being.
They give us more control over what goes on in our body.
They reduce blood pressure.
It helps us to break the vicious cycle of negative thoughts.
They improve our self-esteem.
They help us feel better prepared to deal with new situations.
They lower the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in our blood.
They help us fall asleep.
They reduce muscle tension.
Certain techniques improve blood flow to large muscle groups.
Day-to-day relaxation (and step by step)
These are relaxation techniques that you can use every day, making them part of your routine.. Being simple and easy to follow, you will be able to learn them on your own on the basis of several weeks of practice, although you should know that there is also the possibility of learning other more complex training proposals for which you would need an instructor who is physically by your side when you go to do them.
The best times to practice these relaxation techniques are right after waking up or before going to bed. remember this it is convenient to do them in quiet and secluded places and you should wear comfortable clothes while following these steps.
1. Breathing with the diaphragm
Many times the simple act of changing the way we breathe will trigger a series of processes in our body that will lead to a significant decrease in anxiety. This, added to the fact that relaxation techniques related to breathing are very easy to perform, makes diaphragmatic breathing an ideal exercise to initiate.
The purpose of this technique is to teach you to pay attention to your breathing and to train yourself to breathe optimally, which makes the abdomen more prominent than the chest.
The steps to follow to perform this technique are as follows:
- Lie on a flat surface upward and in an upright posture, Although without contracting the muscles. You can also sit in a chair with your thighs parallel and forming a 90-degree angle with your torso.
- Place the palm of one of your hands on your chest and the other on your abdomen. For 20 seconds, direct your attention to how the breath moves these two areas.
- The fact that the chest moves a lot more than the abdomen is a sign of shallow breathing, Which often causes us to lack oxygen even if we don’t realize it.
- For at least 3 minutes, you should guide your breathing to move the hand resting on your abdomen more. than the one on the chest. To do this, breathe in deeply through your nose for about 5 seconds and hold the air in the belly area for a few seconds. Then breathe out through your mouth for another 5 seconds.
However, there are many ways to do meditation. here you can see a particularly easy variant to achieve.
For this relaxation technique, you will need to sit (not throw yourself) in a comfortable chair and start following the steps outlined in the diaphragm breathing exercise. As you bring your attention to the breath, you should mentally recite a phrase like “relax,” “calm down,” or something that evokes the act of letting go of anxiety. You can recite this phrase at the end of each exhale.
Also remember that meditation can have many benefits.
3. Guided Imagination
This relaxation technique borrows the method followed in diaphragmatic breathing but, in this case, your attention will be directed to an imagined decor that conveys peace and calm. Therefore, when you want to tackle yourself, it is best that you have already practiced diaphragmatic breathing, which is an easier exercise, although this relaxation technique is also simple.
The steps to follow are as follows:
- Use the first minute to follow the instructions given for diaphragmatic breathing. You can listen to relaxing background music or use rain sound recordings.
- With your eyes closed, imagine a natural environment that helps you relax, Like a flower garden. Try to make this image very vivid and detailed, so that it captures your full attention while you continue to breathe deeply.
- Travel in the imagined environment and explore it with all your senses. Lose yourself in every detail of this scene: the colors of a flower, the touch of the leaves, the rays of the sun on the horizon, the sound of birds, etc. Move slowly across the stage as if you have a route defined by rails.
- After a few minutes, allow this environment to slowly subside as your attention gradually returns to your breathing.. When there is nothing left of this image, open your eyes and do the exercise while completed.
4. Exercise for rapid relaxation
This relaxation technique is extremely simple and is designed so that you can use it several times a day.. It basically involves every time you see an object you want like a vase of flowers in your living room or a decorative figurine, take three or four deep breaths in a row noticing how all of your muscles relax.
Although this exercise is very short, it is advisable to focus your attention on the breath during the process and not to be distracted. You can also imagine a relaxing image (like a secluded beach or a tree in a garden) while doing so.
5. Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation
This relaxation technique was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the first half of the 20th century and is still widely used today.
It consists in gradually relaxing the muscle groups of the body, As if it were the journey of an imaginary little train. It is a very useful exercise to reduce anxiety related to physical processes such as sports or to follow strict schedules. However, it will take you longer than others, so you need to make sure you have a time when no one will bother you.
To achieve this relaxation technique, Follow these steps:
- Lie down or sit in a comfortable place, Make the legs and arms parallel. If you decide to sit down, let your palms rest on your thighs. You can use recordings with relaxing sounds. Close your eyes.
- Take a few seconds to breathe deeply with the diaphragm.
- Focus on how your right foot feels. Visualize it with your imagination, and when you notice that all of your attention is on it, forcefully squeeze the muscles in that part of your body, which tenses your foot for 5 seconds.
- It restores all the muscles of the foot to be completely relaxed. Focus your attention on the feeling of calm that this part of your body produces for about 20 seconds.
- Repeat this process with your other foot, The twins and thighs of each of the legs, abdomen, pecs, arms, hands, back, neck, jaw, face and scalp.
- Breathe deeply for 20 seconds and open your eyes.
Mindfulness is becoming very popular because of the ease with which it can be adapted to various situations, and while practicing it offers many benefits, it can also be a great relaxation technique.
In this article on mindfulness exercises, you can discover several easy-to-follow exercise suggestions.