Do you ever have trouble falling asleep at night? If so, you are not alone. For many, relaxation before bedtime may mean watching TV or scrolling through social media on the smartphone. But this does little to reduce the damaging health effects of chronic stress and can actually harm the quality of your sleep. Bedtime relaxation exercises, on the other hand, are designed to help your body let go of tension, causing you to fall asleep faster while experiencing deeper and better quality sleep. Combined with effective stress management skills, you end up equipped with a powerful, stress-busting combo. This article guides you through three essential relaxation techniques designed to help you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
Let’s face it; life can be stressful. Sometimes, it can feel like we don’t even have 10 minutes to spare. Even if you know all the Stress Management skills, sometimes one just needs a quick break from the stresses of a busy day—in the middle of the day. At these times, instant relaxation techniques can serve as lifesavers. These mini-relaxation techniques are powerful stress-busters that you can reach for anytime. Whether you’re preparing for an important meeting, stuck in traffic, or in the middle of an uncomfortable situation—these exercises can be a fast and effective tool to help you achieve instant relaxation so that you can confidently face the stresses of the day. So go ahead—take some time to try them all to see which ones work best for you.
Have 15 minutes to spare? Try a full relaxation technique for a total de-stressing experience.
In a previous article, I presented the four fundamental aspects of stress management. This article will discuss several practical things that you can do to combat and manage the daily stresses you encounter.
Need immediate de-stressing? This article on instant relaxation techniques will help you relax fast.
Now that I’ve discussed how harmful chronic stress is to your health…what can you do about it? The very necessary next step (after recognizing what is causing your stress) is to make the decision to take control of it. To decide to take control means that you are determined to start making positive, proactive changes in your life to effectively manage your stress—as opposed to allowing yourself to feel like a victim to it and merely trying to cope with it. This difference in mindset can make a significant difference—the difference between feeling like you’re keeping pace while staying ahead in a race as opposed to lagging behind trying to catch up. This article will go over four essential stress management techniques that you need to know—also called the “4 A’s.”
Feeling stressed out right now? Take a few seconds to do one of these quick relaxation techniques.
Do you ever feel suddenly overwhelmed by things you need to do, or get that anxious feeling where you just can’t focus on anything? You’re not alone. This article will show you how you can fight anxiety by present four scientifically proven, easy-to-do techniques that you can do anywhere that will help your body and mind reverse this fight or flight response, so that you can get back into a state of calm where you can focus on the task at hand.
Anxiety: A Part of Life
Life–whether it is work, school, or family–has a way of overwhelming us. Perhaps you tend to get nervous before a big presentation. Perhaps you are one of the millions of people who are prone to experiencing frequent anxiety, no matter the situation. Regardless of which group you fall into, the biology behind this unpleasant feeling is the same: it is caused by a combination of neurotransmitters and hormones that signals your body to produce the “fight or flight response”–the racing heart rate, quickened shallow breathing, increase in blood pressure, and the overall feeling of not being in control.
How to Fight Anxiety: 4 Practical Techniques
Breathe in a 5-5-5 pattern
- One of the most effective ways to fight anxiety is to use a breathing technique. With your eyes closed, slowly breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it in for 5 seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. Do this for at least 1 minute. This technique not only allows more oxygen to be delivered to your brain, allowing your head to clear, but it sends a message to your body to start relaxing.
Relax your muscles with a progressive relaxation method
- This method, while it takes a few minutes to perform, is one of the most effective ways to fight anxiety. In a sitting or lying position, start at your feet, tensing your muscles by pointing your toes for 3 seconds, then fully relax them. Do this systematically, working your way up, from your legs up to your abdomen, your hands then your arms, and end by clenching and relaxing your jaw and cheek muscles. You should feel instantly relaxed. It can also be done in reverse, starting with the head. This is an extremely effective technique when done properly and is particularly useful for those with anxiety issues.
- To read more about this method, check out this article on relaxation techniques.
Focus on the present with the 5-4-3-2-1 technique
- When you are anxious, your mind automatically focuses on the unpleasant feeling. By taking a moment to force yourself to be aware of your surroundings, you are also forcing the mind to help fight anxiety.
- Look around you and mentally identify 5 specific things that you see, then find 5 things that you hear. Then go back and name 4 things that you see (can be the same things), and 4 things that you hear, and so on, until you reach 1. This forces you to be in the moment and will help you gather your thoughts.
Repeat a mantra
- Another way you can fight anxiety and calm the mind is to use a mantra. While taking slow deep breaths, slowly repeat (out loud or silently) a positive phrase such as, “I am at peace” or “All is well” in sync with your breaths. This is a technique often used in meditation that not only is effective in calming your mind but can also help with positive thinking.
Remember, if it doesn’t seem to work the first time you try it, don’t give up. Just as it is with any technique–practice makes perfect.
So now that you are equipped with some powerful relaxation tools, go forth and conquer the day with confidence…for a new, de-stressed life awaits you.
*Information such as that contained in “How to Fight Anxiety: 4 Techniques that Work Fast” can be found in Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, by Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH.