3 WAYS TO QUICKLY RELAX YOUR BODY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED
In the fast-paced world we live in, most people are under more stress than they realize. Over time, a continual high stress level can take its toll on both the brain and the body. Here are three techniques you can use to help de-stress your body.
Either used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as yoga, reducing stress through breathing is popular because it works for everyone, it’s free, it can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day. While there are several different types of breathing exercises, the one demonstrated here is deep breathing. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, it involves using the diaphragm (in the center of your body), instead of just the lungs. Here is how to do it.
- Inhale deeply through your nose for four seconds.
- Use your diaphragm to extend your stomach outward.
- Hold that breath for seven seconds.
- Slowly pull your stomach in and exhale for eight seconds.
Do this as a routine several times a day, or whenever you are feeling stressed. You’ll know you’re doing it correctly if you don’t feel your shoulders going up and down (a sure sign of shallow lung breathing).
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
Known as PMR, this is another simple technique that relaxes the body. It involves tightening up a specific group of muscles, holding them tense for a few seconds, and then slowly releasing that tension. This technique is one of the best ways to reduce the physical tension caused by stress. To do this progressive muscle relaxation technique, start by finding a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Tense all the muscles in your face; close your eyes tight, and hold them closed. Do the same with your teeth. Now use the deep breathing technique explained above. This time, on the exhale slowly release the tension in your eyes and teeth, and feel the stress drain away. Work your way down your body doing the same thing for your neck, shoulders, both arms, your abdominal core, buttocks, and legs a couple of times a day. All it takes is about 15 minutes for each session. There are several audio guides available on Amazon (one you can stream for free) that can help you do this just the right way.
When you are stressed out, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is only meant to be released occasionally, our busy lifestyles cause almost continual stress, prompting the continual release of cortisol. Over time, this can take its toll on the body by inducing weight gain and causing other health-related issues. However, physical exercise reduces the effects of too much cortisol by countering it with the release of endorphins – known as the “feel good” chemicals. These are responsible for what we know as the “runner’s high.” Research has found that people who exercise regularly build up a type of immunity to stress, so they are not affected as much by it as those who do not exercise on a regular basis. This is my all-time favorite stress-relieving workout. It’s easy to follow, even if you’re just starting out, and it’s a perfect blend of yoga and Pilates. Plus, Louise Solomon’s voice is so soothing! You can’t feel stressed after completing this workout. It’s just impossible. The next time you feel stressed, try any or all of these three physical stress reducing techniques to kick stress to the curb. You may find that in addition to your physical stress level, your emotional stress level will decrease, as well. A double win! Feeling more than a little stressed? Check out my guide for beating anxiety naturally.