I love living in the Greater Toronto Area, but we have a hectic lifestyle here. We’ve lived in a productive, work-centric culture for so long that many of us have begun associating “relaxation” with “wasting time”. Fact is though, taking time to relax is the only way your body and mind can cope with stress. Throughout the day your body’s stress response can be triggered regularly. If you don’t allow your body to return to its natural state of relaxation after, you’ll eventually be in a state of chronic stress.
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health. Known for causing heart disease, migraines, even the common cold; stresshurts your body as much as your mind and spirit. Learning relaxation techniques can help prevent chronic stress, protecting your health and wellness. It will also help you become more resilient to stress, which is even better. That’s why this article is dedicated to rest and leisure. These are 5 tips for relaxation.
Many people slough off breathing exercises, without trying them first. If you gave them a sincere opportunity to work though, you would see how helpful and powerful they are. Breathing exercises are your first line of defence against stress. They’re easy, free, can be done anywhere, and most importantly, they work. Try these two techniques and see for yourself.
- COUNTED BREATHING: This is a good breathing technique for beginners. The counting can distract and relaxyour mind while the oxygen circulates, reducing stress. When you inhale, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Count for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale slowly for seven seconds. This is known as 4-7-7 breathing, but you can set your own pace, if seven seconds feels too long.
- VISUALIZATION BREATHING: Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and begin breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth. When you inhale, visualize your abdomen inflating like a balloon. Be sure that your stomach is inflating, not your chest. This is diaphragmatic breathing (and should be how we’re always breathing). When the “balloon” in your stomach is full, exhale, and imagine the air is slowly escaping the balloon. Continue breathing like this for at least several breaths.
Music is a wonderful tool for stress relief. If you need to work out aggression you can sing really loud to Alanis Morisette. If you want to sit back and chill while giving yourself a facial then some instrumental might be nice. Or maybe you just need to dance it out to Beyonce. Either way, music can be there for you to help improve your mood.
It might seem like the opposite of relaxation, but working up a sweat is one of the best ways to cope with stress. Physical activity allows you to release the negative stress… quite literally like blowing off steam. Endorphins are also released during exercise which make you feel good and helps you to relax after. Additionally, you can combine the previously mentioned relaxation techniques; breathing exercises and music, while exercising. Just think how good all those endorphins will feel.
Feeling good about yourself can help reduce stress by boosting your confidence and self-esteem. This Self Care Sunday Kit is great for some “me time”. Remember to try some breathing exercises while pampering yourself. Of course, your favourite music or a funny movie is a nice addition too.
Ok, so maybe this isn’t as clinical as the previous suggestions, but it holds just as much merit. Researchers have found numerous benefits to scheduling more fun into our daily lives. It’s needed to bring balance to our emotional and physical wellbeing. What’s nice is that this relaxation technique is totally customized to what you want. Do you like playing guitar? How about video games, hiking, or reading? Whatever you love, make more time for it. It really is that simple.