Lately, I have been feeling really stressed. As we move closer to the holiday season, it seems most people have to deal with more stress than usual. Over time, a continual high stress level not only takes its toll on the brain, but also on the body. My favourite go-to when I’m feeling stressed is a nice, leisurely massage, however since I haven’t had that opportunity lately, I looked up some techniques that you can use to relax your body when you feel stressed.
1) Breathing Exercises
Either used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as yoga, reducing stress through breathing is popular because it works for everyone, is free, can be done anywhere and takes very little time to do.
While there are several different types of breathing exercises, the one demonstrated here is deep breathing. Also known as diaphragmic breathing, it involves using the diaphragm instead of just the lungs.
According to an article published by the Harvard Medical School, deep breathing triggers relaxation, which eases the feeling of being stressed. Actually, this one works really well when your
spouse kids are driving you crazy.
Here is how to do it.
Start out by inhaling deeply through your nose for four seconds. Use your diaphragm to extend your stomach. Hold the breath for seven seconds. Now slowly pull back in your stomach by pulling in your diaphragm and exhaling for eight seconds. Do this as a routine several times a day or whenever you are feeling stressed.
2) Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Known as PMR, this is another simple technique that relaxes the body. It involves tightening up a specific group of muscles, holding them tense for a few seconds and then slowly releasing the tension. It works to reduce the physical tension caused by stress more so than if trying to reduce tension without first tensing them up.
Medicinenet describes PMR as a deep relaxation technique that has been effectively used to control stress and anxiety, relieve insomnia, and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. A recent study shows that it is also used to control astham.
To do this muscle relaxation technique, start by finding a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Start with your face by tensing all the muscles in your face; close your eyes tight and hold them closed. Do the same with your teeth. Now use the deep breathing explained earlier, except on the exhale, also slowly release the tension on your eyes and teeth and feel the stress drain away.
Work your way down your body doing the neck, shoulders, each extremity, the buttocks and abdominal core a couple times a day. All it takes is about 15 minutes for each session.
3) Physical Exercise
When we are stressed out, a hormone is released in our body called cortisol. While it is meant to be released only occasionally, our busy lives are causing almost continually stress and therefore the continual release of this hormone. Over time, it can take its toll by inducing weight gain and causing other health-related issues. However, exercising reduces the effects of too much cortisol by countering it with the release of endorphins – known as the “feel good” chemical or what is commonly called a “runner’s high”.
And research has found that people who exercise regularly build up a type of immunity to stress, so they are not as much by it as those who do not exercise on a regular basis.
Not if, but when you feel stressed, try any or all of these three body-stress reducing techniques and kick stress to the curb. Not only will your physical stress level go down, but so will your emotional stress level. A win/win all around!