College of DuPage Nursing Student Cindy Nguyen wrote for Healthy Lombard that life often throws curveballs at us and knock us down. The stress of balancing life, work, school, family, and ourselves can take a toll on our mind, body, and health. However, by knowing how to utilize relaxation techniques can help alleviate the stressors of life and help us better manage it. Relaxation helps reduce the symptoms of stress to boost overall wellness. Stress surrounds us; however, it is how we respond to stress that matters most. The greatest defense against stress is our ability to manage it. Anybody can benefit from learning relaxation techniques; they are free, easy, pose no threat, and may be implemented at anytime and anywhere. By exploring a few relaxation techniques, the path of distressing life and improving health outcomes is feasible.
Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
With the variety of responsibilities in life, the time to think about relaxation techniques is limited. However, when evaluating the many benefits, practicing relaxation techniques will truly be worth incorporating into everyday life. Relaxation techniques have been demonstrated to benefit several health conditions – “including, anxiety that is associated with illnesses or medical procedures, insomnia, labor pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction,” (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2016). Additionally, bodily improvements have been observed following relaxation techniques for example, “blood pressure, digestion, blood flow to major muscles, reduced muscle tension and chronic pain, improved concentration and quality of sleep, and reduced anger and frustration,” (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
Types of Relaxation Techniques
Autogenous relaxation refers to the mechanism within you; visual imagery and body awareness are incorporated when performing this relaxation to ease stress. For example, a person can imagine they are in a calm, serene setting and focus on controlling breathing, heart rate, and slowly releasing tension in their body. During this process, mentally repeat words like “my heartbeat is calm” or “I am completely calm.” Then continue this process for different parts of the body. (Mayo, 2020).
Breath focus. This technique involves taking long, slow, deep breaths. This is a powerful technique and will relinquish stress and tension in the body. As the person breathes, they will disengage their mind and get rid of distracting thoughts to fully get into the motion of relaxation. A sense of lightness and feeling free will occur as one lets go of worries. (Corliss, 2019).
Mindfulness meditation. This activity is performed by an individual assuming a comfortable sitting position in a quiet, peaceful room that is free from distractions and noises. Then, close the eyes, focus on breathing, and clear the mind of worries. The idea is for the mind not to focus on past or future concerns but to remain in the present. By saying a phrase throughout the motion, the individual’s energy is focused on what they are intending to feel, which helps to rid of anxiety, depression, and pain.
Music therapy. The power of music heals the mind, body, and soul. When listening to your favorite music, it is soothing and uplifting for the spirits. Quite often we might be going about our daily routine when all of a sudden, the sound of our favorite tune plays and it just puts a smile on our face and lifts our mood. Music is one key to promoting relaxation. If music helps you to relax, try to schedule 10 to 15 minutes to listen to music each day; either listen to music or sing along to a favorite music while driving, exercising, cooking, showering. Or, fall asleep with soft music playing in the background to help facilitate comfortable sleep as well as relax the body.
Relaxation techniques are something we cannot live without. Any of these relaxation techniques may boost overall mood, reduce anxiety, stress, calm the mind, body, soul, and enhance wellbeing. During these days of uncertainty in the world, anxiety is heightened, and stress is uncontrollable. Not knowing what will happen in the next moment may threaten health and our body does not need unnecessary stress, rather we can choose to relieve concerns by practicing relaxation techniques. As we bear the difficult times on a global scale, remember one of the best things one can do is to take a break from thinking, wondering, imagining, and obsessing and just breathe, hope and have faith that life will work out for the best.
Corliss, J. (2019, September 10). Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/six-relaxation-techniques-to-reduce-stress
Mayo Clinic. (2020, April 18). Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress. Www. mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, May). Relaxation Techniques for Health. NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/relaxation-techniques-for-health