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Feeling Stressed? Here Are 2 Relaxation Techniques You Can Try Today

Healthy Lifestyle
Published: July 22, 2020

 

We’ve heard the phrases over and over: Unprecedented events. Uncertain and difficult times. The new normal. 

Any way you put it, our lives today are stressful. On top of the normal stress and anxiety our daily lives bring, now we’re forced to navigate with COVID-19 constantly in mind.

Stress affects our thoughts, feelings and behavior. It can lead to anxiety and depression. It can cause tension headaches, muscle pain and poor sleep. And it can contribute to major health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

More than ever, regulating your stress level is an important part of your health and wellness. There are numerous approaches to managing stress, and everyone has their own formula for success. Below are two relaxation techniques you may not have tried.

 

Guided imagery

This simple technique helps create balance and harmony between the mind and body. With guided imagery, you shift your focus away from stress or worries by imagining calming scenes, landscapes or personal experiences. You’re essentially creating your own mental escape so you can achieve relaxation and focus.

Getting started is easy. You may find that calming music or sounds of the natural world help you concentrate. There are also numerous videos online to help you – many with someone leading you through an exercise. If step-by-step instructions are more your style, try this.

The benefits of guided imagery can vary from person to person, but the technique can be used to:

  • Help you prevent worrying thoughts and stay present and mindful
  • Assist with pain management
  • Manage stress-induced health issues like high blood pressure
  • Aid with academic or athletic performance

 

Progressive muscle relaxation

This relaxation technique helps relieve tension caused by stress or anxiety. The idea is to slowly tense and relax each muscle group in your body, focusing on how each action feels.

Start by tensing the muscles in your toes, then work your way up to the muscles in your neck and head.  Tense your muscles as you breathe in, and relax your muscles as you breathe out. Hold each contraction for five seconds, and relax for 20-30 seconds. As you continue, your tension should melt away as you feel a growing sense of relaxation throughout your body.

Need help? This video offers more in-depth instructions on how to effectively practice progressive muscle relaxation. This article lists the muscle groups you should focus on.

 

Your situation is unique

These are just two of the many relaxation techniques that may work for you. Like so many things, with practice, you’ll feel more comfortable performing them and be more likely to experience the benefits. 

While stress is universal, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to effectively managing it. If you continue to have a difficult time, be sure to contact your primary care provider.

More resources

Richard Roeser

About the Author:

Richard Roeser, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist now seeing patients at Methodist Physicians Clinic HealthWest Physical Therapy Clinic.

See More Articles by Richard Roeser