Relaxation techniques really need to be taught in schools. Our lives are more non-stop and stressful than ever before, and young people are often the ones who cope the least.
Sometimes, in life, you need to take time to relax. It’s impossible to hurtle through every day at a million miles per hour. Sometimes we just need to stop, breathe, relax… and find ourselves again. If you’re in need of some downtime, here are some relaxation techniques that actually work.
Relaxation Techniques #1: Exercise
I know what you’re thinking. The last thing you want to do when you’re stressed, tired or feeling like you’ve been chasing your tail all day is exercise. However, if you can find that tiny bit of energy and motivation to cram that workout in, you won’t regret it. Although exercise gets your heart pumping and boosts your energy levels, it’s also proven to relax you and help you to feel calm. Many people use exercise as a way of escaping the daily grind and enabling them to refocus their mind, clear their head, and enjoy a bit of well-earned me time. You don’t have to go hell for leather in the gym or run for miles. You can opt for something gentler like a yoga or Pilates session, or you can get some fresh air and go for a jog or a bike ride.
When you’re exercising, let go of anything that’s troubling you. Put some music on, get in the zone, and focus all your energy on what you’re doing. When you’re pushing your body, it may hurt, but afterwards, you’ll reap the rewards. When you work out, your body releases happy hormones, known as endorphins, and your session can provide a very welcome distraction from work or difficulties at home or simply give you a chance to enjoy half an hour in your own little world.
If you’re not used to exercising, it can be daunting to join a class or sign up for gym membership. Take a friend with you for moral support or try an activity you can do on your own, such as swimming or jogging. Build up your fitness gradually, and if you don’t take to the first thing you try, give some other sports or classes a try. There is so much choice out there, so don’t write exercise off if you don’t enjoy gym workouts or you dread going to spin class. Find something you love, and try different activities depending on your mood. You may have days when you have a lot of energy to burn, and you want something fast-paced and furious. Other days, you may want to go for something more sedate.
Relaxation Techniques #2: Massage
Massage has long been used to relax both the body and mind. If you’ve never had a massage before, it’s worth giving it a go if you’re prone to stress or you crave a moment of peace and tranquillity in the day. Massage involves using targeted hand movements, which apply pressure to the skin and the muscle tissue beneath. There are lots of different types of massage on offer at places like Savvy Massage, and you can tailor the session to suit your needs. If you exercise on a regular basis, for example, you may benefit from a deep tissue sports massage. If you’ve had a tough day at the office, a head and neck massage may be just the ticket.
Massage has benefits for your body, but it also has a really positive impact on your mind. You can often feel tension leaving your body, and during your massage, you can shut down, chill out, and relax. Studies suggest that massage can help to reduce anxiety and improve your mood by lowering cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone, which is released when the body is under stress. It can also boost serotonin levels, which makes you feel happier and more content.
Tiredness is a major contributor to stress and anxiety in modern society, and massage has been proven to help you sleep. If you find it hard to unwind after a busy day, going for a massage can help you switch from work to relaxation mode and prepare your body and mind for sleep. If you’re getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, this can make a massive difference to your mental and physical health.
Relaxation Techniques #3: Creature comforts
Do you own a pet? Are you an animal lover? If so, you’re in luck. Have you ever noticed that you feel calmer when you’re curled up with the dog or the cat has come for a cuddle? Spending time with pets is proven to lower blood pressure and help you feel relaxed. Next time you’re feeling fraught, or you’ve had one of those days, spend some quality time with your furry friends. If you don’t have a pet, you could always borrow one.
Ask a friend if you can take their pet pooch out for a walk or look for a local service that enables you to interact with animals. You can visit pet shelters or help to look after dogs who are owned by people who aren’t able to walk them very often. It may seem like a lovely idea, but there is substance to the argument that animals make you feel more relaxed. Therapy dogs are increasingly commonplace in schools, hospitals and dental clinics, and a growing number of universities and colleges now offer students the chance to go and cuddle puppies and kittens when exams are approaching, and stress is rife.
Relaxation Techniques #4: Meditation
Meditation is an ancient art, which involves contemplation and reflection. It can help you to adopt a more positive mindset, tackle issues that are making you feel anxious, and enable you to cope when it seems like you’ve got a lot on your plate. Many people meditate to give them some downtime on a busy day, and it can also help with depression. You don’t have to go to a meditation class to meditate. You can download apps that give you guided meditations, or you can meditate on your own.
If you find it hard to relax and switch off, give these techniques a try. Not every method will work for everyone, but you’re bound to find something that makes you feel calm and enables you to sit back and chill out.