Looking for better and more inventive ways to relax? Research shows that plenty of people, of all ages and demographics, are experiencing more stress in their daily lives.1
It’s easy to feel helpless when you’re faced with a lot of stress. But one thing you can control in the hustle and bustle is how you decompress and lower your stress levels. Read on for all the ways relaxation tips can potentially support stress reduction (and therefore your physical and mental health) and some easy ways to hopefully get some zen.
How Does Relaxation Help You?
Relaxation techniques may help your mind and body incite something called the relaxation response — marked by even, normal breathing as well as a healthy heart rate and a lower blood pressure. This is counter to what is known as the body’s stress response, which puts the body in a heightened state — with a racing pulse and more rapid breathing.2
Relaxation exercises have been found to have quite an effect on the following aspects of your health and daily life. They might help support healthy blood pressure levels and sleep quality, among other things.3
There are many recognized and popular types of relaxation techniques that can be guided by a pro, such as progressive relaxation or breathing techniques. However, there are also plenty of studies on various stress relief techniques you can do on your own at home.
How To Relax Your Mind And Body
Whether at home, school, or work, these relaxation techniques can potentially help you release some stress, support better focus, and help boost your mood and energy.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This method aims to help release physical tension in your body and support good blood flow. To try it, lie flat on a mat or on the bed. Visualize a muscle group or part of your body (say, your jaw), then flex or tense it up for a few seconds before slowly releasing and relaxing. Focus on the sensation of muscle tension releasing. Then, progress to the next body part, and repeat until you’ve relaxed your entire body.4
Whip Out A Pen And Paper
Writing can be cathartic. Empty your mind by journaling your thoughts and feelings. Or, write lists — from practical to-do lists or a gratitude journal. You can also try doodling to calm your mind.5
Have A Drink
Don’t reach for alcoholic or overly caffeinated beverages. Instead, sip some warm milk or herbal tea. Even plain hot water with a little lemon will work. Warm drinks help stimulate blood flow and aid in relaxation, which is why a lot of people like having a warm cup of something before hitting the sack.6
Your nose can be a powerful ally in relaxation. Try aromatherapy oils to help promote stress relief and support better sleep, such as lavender or jasmine. If you need something with a little zing to boost your mood, try a citrus or minty scent. Even nostalgic scents (like certain food scents or a specific person’s perfume) can stimulate relaxation.7
Consider Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of calming your thoughts and focusing your mind on what it can observe in the now. Instead of stressing over factors you can’t control, mindfulness meditation teaches you how to be more present – simply take a moment to listen to your own breath, and use your senses to ascertain what’s going on around you without passing any judgment.8
Practice Some Visualization
Visualization isn’t simply daydreaming – you’re giving your brain a bit of a break by visualizing a serene scene or a positive scenario you wish to make into a reality. Imagine yourself at your next vacation, or think of a potential future outcome you really want for yourself.9
Let Mother Nature Help
Take a brisk stroll outside and catch a few rays. Or, simply open the curtains and take in the local scenery. Surrounded by a concrete jungle? Even looking at photos of nature scenes (think mountains or a tranquil sea) may have a similar restorative effect. Try having a photo or even a postcard of a pretty scene within your sights of your office desk.10
Work With Your Hands
Get crafty and creative – no worries if you aren’t particularly artistic. As with a lot of things, it’s about the journey and not the destination. Adult coloring books are popular for their purported destressing effects. Try pottery, painting, or even sewing, or pick up a musical instrument. Bake some cookies, or decorate a cake, if you’re into it. Whatever creative pursuit you find yourself in, just allow yourself to relax and enjoy it.11
Easier said than done, but you might find unplugging especially helpful. Log out of your devices and refrain from using them right before bed. Be more intentional about how much time you spend on social media. Take a break from your phone, even for an hour. Try not to zone out in front of the TV if you’re bored – instead, try some of the tips above. You may find them more beneficial to your stress levels than endlessly scrolling through your phone’s apps.
Relax, Don’t Do It (Too Much)
It can be challenging to put your everyday life on pause and simply relax. But you must be just as intentional about your rest and relaxation as you are about all the other aspects of your life. With the right strategies in place, you may find stress much easier to bear, and your brain and body will thank you for your efforts.