7 Powerful Relaxation Techniques
As you go through your day, your mind and soul can start to feel heavy from deadlines and uncomfortable tasks or situations that you don’t feel like you have the power to change.
All these cares and worries start to add up like rocks in a backpack dragging you down until you feel like you just do not want to get out of bed in the morning.
This stress load can hold you back form trying new things or reaching your full potential while robbing you of happiness.
Over time it can also impact your health, leading to damage to your body, the need to take medications, or making it more challenging to do even the simplest things in life.
Let’s take a look at these relaxation techniques and start working on lightening your soul by taking those rocks out of your backpack.
7 Powerful Relaxation Techniques
Breath awareness is the cornerstone of mediation.
Each breath helps anchor your mind to the present. Feeling each breath, you train your mind to stay in the now.
When you are in the now, you are not dwelling on something in the past or worried about something in the future.
Studies have shown when our minds wander, they go to places of worry or regret.
Feeling each breath nudges your mind back into the present and breaks this thought cycle that can cause stress.
Now if you are like me, this is easy to say but hard to put into practice. Let’s jump into some practical tips and set you up for success.
Baby steps, you can do it!
First pick a comfortable place to sit. A cushion on the floor can be nice, or on the couch or a chair. If you choose the couch or chair, just make sure you sit with your feet flat on the floor and have an upright posture.
Next, make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Now relax your hands, placing them someplace comfortable like your lap or along your thighs.
Lightly close your eyes and direct your attention to your breath, where it is easy for you to notice it.
This could be your lips if you are breathing through your mouth or the tip of your nose. Maybe your chest as it rises and falls.
Feel your breath go in and out. Notice where it starts and ends. Feel the space in between each breath. Feel the temperature or maybe the texture of the air as it enters and leaves you.
At some point your mind will wander. This is normal, so don’t get down on yourself or give up. Just give your mind a gentle nudge back where it belongs by focusing again on your breathing.
Try to reach five minutes for your first time, and then add a little more time each day you practice. Before long, you will be able to carve out blocks of peace in your day whenever you need them!
#2 Spend Some Time Outdoors.
Connecting with nature can be a wonderful way to improve your state of mind and lower stress.
Sunlight and fresh air are natural mood lifters that energize your body and improve how your brain functions. Embrace the warmth on your skin as it banishes your anxiety and puts a smile on your face.
Take time to pause and focus on things that really speak to you. Maybe how the light plays in the clouds. The color bursting from a flower. The smell of fresh-cut grass.
If you are like me, you might need an activity to do while you are spending time outside, so here are some suggestions for you:
- Take a long bike ride around on the trails in a park or any place where you can keep moving so you can stay in the flow.
- Go for a walk after dinner with your family.
- Read a book at the beach or on a bench at the park.
- Spend an afternoon picking apples at an orchard.
- Plant some flowers in a pot or garden space.
- Have a snowball fight or build a snowman with your friends.
- Go for a ride in a canoe or kayak on a river.
- Hike up a trail that leads to a waterfall or overlook.
- Visit a flower- or fragrance garden.
- Take a trip to a petting zoo or farm.
- Offer to mow an elderly person’s lawn.
- Go camping for the weekend.
When life gets in the way.
Now what can you do if you are stuck inside because of work or the weather is so wet the only ones out there are the ducks? Try a few of these things to get you by until you can get outside:
- Watch a documentary or look at photos of a national park you would like to visit.
- If you have a window in the room where you are working, try to arrange your desk so you have a clear view.
- Set a nature photo as the background image on your computer or phone.
- Make a Pinterest board of your favorite nature pictures or places.
- Decorate your work space with photos of some good memories of times outdoors.
#3 Enjoy a Cup of Tea.
Tea is not only good for your health, but it can also sooth your body and calm your mind. Here are some great ones to try:
- Passionflower – Some people find this tea helps calm and soothe their minds, reducing anxiety and nervousness.
- Ginger – This tea is known as an aid for indigestion and remedy for muscles that are sore and tense from stress.
- Lavender – Let the pleasant smell of this tea please your nose while it soothes your nerves. Enjoy a cup before a stressful event or an hour before your bedtime.
- Yerba Mate – Some health experts say this tea can help overcome mental and physical fatigue. It can also boost your energy, as it has some caffeine in it.
- Peppermint – This tea can relieve your upset tummy. The smell can bring focus and clarity to your mind.
- Green – The theanine found in this tea brings relaxation and can calm your anxieties. Some people find the caffeine in this tea to be kinder on their nerves than coffee.
- Chamomile – This tea supports your nervous system and can be a great sleep aid if taken before you go to bed.
- Cinnamon – People looking for things with antioxidants in them will enjoy this tea. Also, the smell will tingle the nose and give you a mental boost.
While you are waiting for your cup of tea to steep, take a moment to enjoy the warmth of the cup on your hands, the smell as it fills your nose and the sight of the steam wafting lazy trails into the air.
You can also add a little honey with lemon juice or cream to help change things up and excite your taste buds!
#4 Take a Tech Detox.
I can hear the panic raging forth from the little voice in your mind: This article was supposed to help me relax and reduce my stress, not give me a panic attack from missing out on all the important things in my life!
Hang in there, take a few deep breaths and hear me out.
There are more than a few good reasons to consider taking a break from all that tech that keeps you plugged in 24/7.
There have been some studies that show the blue wavelength light emitted from the screen of your favorite devices can disrupt your sleep patterns if you use them within a few hours before bed. Disrupted sleep can leave you feeling sluggish and anxious the next day.
Being blasted with the sounds and images of all your social media apps letting you know someone has just released an update that you have to read (Right Now!) trains your brain to be always anticipating the next update. This makes it hard to focus on the things that you need to focus on and makes you edgy if it has been a while since the last update.
It’s a trap!
Also, looking at someone else push out a carefully-edited glimpse into their lives can make you feel bad about yourself and that your life is lacking.
Here are a few ways to take a break from your tech and show it who’s the boss.
The One Hour Break – If you need to ease into this, why not just take a break for an hour? Read a book or get a few things knocked off your To-Do list.
Tech-Free Evening – One day this week, put your tech away by a certain time of night. Make some fun snacks and have some friends over to play cards or a board game.
Unplugged Saturday – After trying the first two ideas a few times and savoring the victory of your accomplishments, you might feel brave enough to try taking a whole day off. Maybe take a day hike and enjoy the outdoors and relax.
The Whole Week – For those people who crave a walk on the wild side, take a whole week off. A week where you are on break from school or on a vacation from work could be a great time to put yourself to the test. Make sure you give your friends and family a warning that you will not be reachable during that time. Invite them to join you and watch the looks of shock and horror flood their faces!
If you find that you’re not ready for one of the larger challenges, don’t give up. Keep at it, and know that even a small break can be a good thing in your life.
#5 Spread Kindness and Cheer.
It is very hard to feel unhappy while you are bringing sunlight and cheer into someone else’s day.
Carry around with you a pack of sticky notes. The yellow kind are just fine, but the multi-color packs can add to the fun!
Write a joke, or an uplifting message or quote on one of the sticky notes and stick it down when the time is right.
The surprise is sure to bring joy into someone’s day and put a smile on their face.
You can leave them:
- On the windshield of a car.
- On a random locker at school, the gym or work.
- On a lunch tray.
- On a mirror in a public bathroom.
- In the center of a book or magazine that is in the hot picks section at your local library.
- On the seat in a public transit vehicle like a bus or subway.
- On a park bench.
- Or many more creative places when you feel the mood strike.
Dive right in!
If you need some ideas to get you started as the sticky-note ninja of joy, try these:
- Don’t give up!
- Smile! It looks great on you!
- Never give up on your dreams!
- You are beautiful!
- Have an awesome day!
- Thanks for being you!
Take a moment and reflect on how you feel after you leave a note and your hopes about the positive impact this will have on the person reading it. Feels good, now doesn’t it!
Once you feel comfortable doing this, you can take it up a notch and compliment someone in person. Just say something short and simple like, “I love your shirt!” or “Your smile is infectious!”
#6 Make a Box for Your Worries.
Most of us worry about things in our lives at some point. Once you start thinking about your concern, it can be hard to stop.
Even if you are not thinking about it actively, your worries stick around in your subconscious, causing stress that can give you a headache, an upset tummy, and raise your heart rate and blood pressure.
One way you can lower the impact these thoughts have on you is to store your worries in a box! You can make it as plain or exciting as you want.
You will need the following:
- Scissors or knife
- Paper or note pad
Take your box and cut a slot in the top.
If you want to make the box more fun, you could decorate it with wrapping paper, stickers or draw on it with markers etc. Make it your own!
When you feel yourself starting to worry, just open up your notepad and write your worry down.
Remove the paper from the notepad, put it in the box and let it go.
Writing your cares down and putting them into the box is giving yourself permission to set that thought aside and not think about it constantly.
After a time (maybe a week or a month) you can open the box up and throw all the worries into the trash. If you feel brave, you could read them first. You might find that a lot of them resolved themselves and it was not as scary as you were afraid it would be!
#7 Start a Thankfulness Journal.
Feeling thankful about things in your life helps shift your thoughts into a positive track.
This will help relax your body and improve your metal health.
Keep a journal next to your bed and try to spend at least five minutes reflecting on your day and write down at least one thing that you are thankful for.
It can be something as simple as a nice thing someone said to you. Or you could go into detail and list all the reasons you feel grateful for the people in your life.
Spending some time each night before bed like this will help train your mind to dwell on positive things and can improve your quality of sleep.
You can do it!
Here are a few tips to help get your started:
Think about the best part of your day.
Think about your interactions with people throughout the day. Even the smallest of moments can matter.
Write down what happened and why you are thankful. Maybe think about what life might be like without that person. Let that guide you as you describe them.
If you are writing about your own achievement, focus on your growth and not just the goal itself. Overcoming challenges can be very powerful when you focus on what you learned to do it!
Some of your entries will be more detailed than others. If all you can write down is something short and sweet, don’t worry about it. Remember that just the act of feeling thankful is powerful in training your thoughts going forward each day.
Putting it all together.
Don’t try to take on too much at once. Just pick one of these tips to start with, and work on it each day.
If you forget a day, or if you struggle to successfully get through the exercise, do not panic! Pick up where you left off and keep moving forward.
In time, it will become more second nature, and you can try adding another one of these ideas into your daily mix.
Before you know it, the heaviness will start falling away and your steps throughout your day will get lighter.
Who is that beautiful person with a smile on their face? You!