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Three Simple Relaxation Techniques Anyone Can Try

Mindfulness and meditation are both popular ways to relax and over time, may help to reduce the symptoms of stress.

The idea of meditation can seem daunting to begin with, but there are plenty of simple techniques you can try to get you started.

Here are just a few suggestions for quick and easy meditations you can try at home. There are many more out there. Experiment to find one that suits you, and do it any time you feel the need.

Mindful Breathing

Being aware of your breathing is the basis of many meditations, and breathing mindfully can be extremely relaxing in itself. Practice this exercise for a few minutes the first few times and as you begin to feel more comfortable, gradually build up the time you spend on this exercise.

  • Find a quiet space, where you won’t be interrupted

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position

  • Close your eyes and put one of your hands on your belly

  • Inhale slowly. A count of 6 is ideal, but breathe at a rate that feels comfortable for you

  • Exhale slowly, again for a count of 6 or whatever feels comfortable

  • With each breath, pay attention to the sensations in your body, notice the movement of your chest, ribs and belly as they rise and fall.

  • If your mind begins to wander, do not fight your thoughts. Just acknowledge them and turn your attention back to your breathing

Walking Meditation

Meditation does not have to be done sitting or lying indoors, you can meditate whilst moving too. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong can all help you to meditate, but perhaps the simplest of all is this walking meditation.

Walking in a park, forest or other natural setting is better, but if this is not possible, choose a quiet street where you won’t face too many distractions. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather so that your mind won’t stray too much.

  • Begin walking at a steady, comfortable pace

  • Pay close attention to your feet as they hit the ground

  • Notice the feeling in your heels, the arches and balls of your feet and your toes as they each touch the ground

  • If you feel your mind wandering, acknowledge your thoughts and return your attention to your feet

  • Try this for a few minutes the first time and build up to longer as you begin to feel more comfortable with the exercise

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a technique which allows you to relax every part of your body and your mind too. It is best done lying down and is an ideal meditation to do in bed to help you relax and drift into a peaceful sleep.

  • Lie down in a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes

  • Focus on your right foot. Tense the muscles, pulling your toes down towards your heel

  • Hold for a few seconds, and then release

  • Feel the tension flow away from your foot as the muscles relax

  • Allow your foot to become heavy and sink into the floor or bed

  • Repeat the same exercise for your left foot

  • Gradually work your way up your body, repeating the exercise for each body part, one by one; your calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, hand, back, shoulders, neck and face

  • If your mind strays, acknowledge your thoughts and return your attention to your body and its physical sensations

These three easy techniques are a great way to keep you feeling calm and relaxed, even when life throws you a curve ball. Practice them regularly and see how much better you feel.

What does it Really Mean to be Stressed?

In our hectic modern lives, we often put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves and take little time to rest. Every day we are faced with problems ranging from work or financial woes to relationship worries, so it’s no wonder many of us would describe ourselves as stressed.

But what does it really mean to be stressed? And what is going on inside our bodies when we are under this kind of pressure? Read on to find out…

What is Stress?

Stress is a physiological reaction to a high pressure situation. It stems from our hunter-gatherer ancestors who would frequently be faced with life or death situations such as encountering wild animals or other, hostile tribes.

In these situations, the human body switches into “fight or flight” mode. The adrenal glands begin to produce two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Together these work to increase metal alertness and prepare our bodies for action.

Our heart rates increase, allowing more blood to be pumped to the muscles. Blood sugar levels rise, providing an extra supply of energy. Other functions such as digestion, reproduction and immunity are put on hold while we deal with the threat.

This fight or flight reaction would have been life-saving for our ancestors, allowing them to make split second decisions in the face of danger. Should they stand and fight that bear, or run away?

These days, we deal with a different kind of stress, but our bodies still react in exactly the same way. Under normal circumstances, this doesn’t cause a problem. Once the stressor has been removed, our bodies should quickly return to a state of calm. However, when we face more constant stresses, such as a never-ending project or an unreasonable colleague, real issues can start to occur.

Symptoms of Stress

Having constantly raised levels of adrenaline and cortisol in your system can cause what is known as chronic stress. This may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety

  • Muscle tension

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Digestive issues

  • Reduced immunity

These classic symptoms of stress are a sign that you need to stop and take a break. And while you may not be able to throw a spear at your boss, there are plenty of other things you can do to help.

A Change is as Good as a Rest

When you’re snowed under at work, it can be tempting to skip lunch and stay at your desk. However, giving yourself a short break and a change of scene can help to reset your brain and actually improve your productivity. If you can, use your lunch hour to go outside for some fresh air, and at the very least get up and stretch your legs. You may be surprised by how much difference this small act makes.

Be More Active

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress at bay. Some people prefer to blow off steam with high impact sports such as running or squash. Others prefer calming practices such as yoga or tai chi. Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is that you pick something that you enjoy and do it regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes, five times a week for the best results.

Eat a Balanced Diet

When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to slip into bad eating habits, but this will only make you feel worse in the long run. Eat three meals a day to keep your energy levels constant, and choose foods which can aid your mental function such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Avoid sugary snacks as these will give you a sudden burst of energy, followed by a slump, tempting you to eat more.

Try a Relaxation Technique

Many people find relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation helpful. These techniques can feel strange and unnatural at first, but the more you practise them, the easier and more useful they become. Experiment with different techniques to find the one that suits you best.

Talk to Someone

Talking to someone you trust is a good way to process your thoughts and get emotional support. Even if they are unable to help directly, talking to someone can often help you to get things in perspective. If you are suffering from long-term stress or finding it hard to cope, consider asking a healthcare professional for help and support.

Take Time for Yourself

Finally, make time to do something you enjoy every day, even if only for half an hour. Read a book, take a bath or book a massage – whatever works for you. Never feel guilty about taking time to look after yourself, it’s just as important as any other aspect of your life.

What is Acupuncture?

 

Acupuncture is a natural therapy which is safe and suitable for people of all ages including children, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions.

Acupuncture is best known as a treatment for pain, but it can also be used to relieve the symptoms of many different health conditions.

And you don’t need to be ill in order to benefit from acupuncture! It is also a great way to relax and maintain your health as well offering a solution when things go wrong.

People choose to have acupuncture for many different reasons. Some of the most commonly treated and well researched conditions include:

  • Tension type headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Neck pain or chronic neck pain
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Osteoarthritis knee pain

Acupuncture can also help with a wide range of other health conditions, improve your mood, aid relaxation and maintain your general health and well-being.