“The school just expects parents to interact with their kids all day. My son is barely occupied for two hours in online classes!”
“Don’t leave home for the next few days. Neighbors have just arrived from home. They can get infected.”
“I was sitting at my study desk at home, answering the phone all day, and my brain was fried!”
These seem to be some common themes of the many conversations that are happening around us today. Are you surprised that people are more stressed than usual? These are unprecedented times, and if you feel sadness, anxiety, anger, confusion, or fear without explanation, you are not alone. The specific reasons for stress experienced in these times are as diverse as people themselves, but few can escape the stress clutch. How do you feel grounded and equal in all that is happening in these Covid eras? Here is the help!
Below are three reliable relaxation techniques that therapists use to help their clients relax. Not all techniques will work for everyone, but at least one should work for you.
1. Progressive muscle relaxation
This exercise is very effective in reducing stress levels and can also reduce physical problems such as headaches and abdominal pain associated with stress. This exercise also improves sleep. When you feel stress, your muscles tighten unconsciously. Regular PMR exercises improve your ability to notice the difference between tense and fully relaxed muscles and to recognize and reduce your physical response to anxiety.
- Sit in a chair with a backrest and sit upright but not tense.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- If you slow down your breathing, gradually tighten one muscle group (neck and shoulders, or upper and lower arms) at a time for about 10 to 15 seconds.
- When the time runs out, use a long exhalation to completely relieve muscle tension and observe a relaxed muscular sensation.
- Continue this for each muscle group from head to foot.
- This can be done 2-3 times a day, even before bedtime.
- Avoid doing this in areas with sprains or other injuries.
2. Diaphragmatic breathing – –
Also called abdominal breathing, it is the best breathing method because it acts positively on the diaphragm. Abdominal breathing improves the flow of oxygen to the rest of the body. This type of breathing causes a relaxation response by stimulating the vagus nerve, the longest nerve emanating from the brain. This nerve plays an important role in lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, improving calmness, relaxation, and digestion. Most people practice abdominal breathing when engaging in breathing-based meditation. Chest breathing is what we learn as a response to stress. For abdominal breathing, follow these steps:
- Sit comfortably or lie flat on a bed or other comfortable surface to relax your shoulders.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale through your nose for 2-10 seconds (depending on volume).
- Feel the cold air move through your nostrils to your abdomen and your stomach swell. During this type of breathing, make sure the stomach is moving outward while the chest is relatively resting.
- Gently press on your stomach and exhale slowly for 2 to 10 seconds.
- Every time you exhale, you will notice a contraction of the stomach under the palm of your hand.
- Repeat these steps several times and observe your body relax.
3. Guided image
This is an intensive exercise that includes all or most of the five senses to burn a calming reaction in the mind and body. Guided imagery uses your imagination to take you to a calm and peaceful place inside. This is a powerful tool that has a positive effect on blood pressure, respiration, oxygenation and heart rate. It can relieve pain and improve the healing process of the body and mind. Our bodies react in the same way whether we actually experience something or imagine it. So, imagine sitting in a beautiful green meadow and watching the clear stream of water flowing over smooth rocks, your body will react as if you were actually in the meadow.
- Sit or lie down and close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath to relax.
- Imagine a calm and peaceful scene. It can be a beach, meadow, valley, mountain, or riverside, depending on your preference.
- Visualize the scene and slowly add details such as breeze, grass scents, water gargling, and bird chirping. Is the sky clear blue or do you see fluffy white clouds?
- It helps you to visualize how you walk through the scene and experience beauty and tranquility with your five senses.
- And as you walk through the scene and go deeper, you feel more and more relaxed.
- Continue to breathe slowly and experience the peace of mind and body. Think of words and sounds that you can use in the future to help you mentally return to this place.
- When you’re ready, gently return to the present. Tell yourself that doing this will help you relax and refresh, and slowly open your eyes. Notice how you feel now.
- You can also use recorded guided image audio. It is commonly available in many of the free versions of the meditation app.
We hope that these powerful relaxation techniques will help you find relief from stress. Let us know what you think in the comments below! For more articles on stress and stress management, check out Healthy Reads or check out LIVE sessions by stress management, yoga and meditation experts on GOQii Play.