Using the breathing exercise has been known for centuries as a dominant instrument for relaxation.
From the towering mountains of Tibet to the humble office of a psychological therapist, breathing is an incredibly versatile, easily-accessible way to reach a state of calmness and serenity.
Breathing exercises, also known as diaphragmatic breathing exercises, involve taking long, deep breaths into the stomach rather than the chest.
· Look for a comfortable position, it can be you are sitting or lying down.
· Slowly breathe into your stomach through your nose, holding in your chest still. You may want to place one hand over your abdomen and the other over your chest, making sure that only your moves as you inhale.
· Exhale through pursed lips, your mouth relaxed. Release tension from all parts of your body as you breathe out.
· Continue for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times daily.
This exercise isn’t limited to the yoga mat, the quietness of your bedroom or a social situation. It can be practiced anywhere, at any time.
Whenever you begin to feel stressed, simply turn your focus to your breathing and continue until calmness is restored.
Progress Muscle Relaxation
Located upon the premise that muscle tension is the body’s response to poor mental health, progressive muscle relaxation has been known to significantly improve symptoms of stress and anxiety.
It is a technique that involves identifying the tension in individual muscles by contracting them. This tension is then released slowly and under control.
Performing muscle relaxation can provide a wealth of psychological benefits, from improving mental health to boosting physical performance.
It is also suggested to lead to increased blood flow, boosting local metabolism and, in turn, reducing pain and muscle spasms.
Progressive muscle relaxation should be practiced whilst lying down. Choose somewhere free from distractions and where you can lie and stretch out comfortably.
· Breathe in slowly, tensing the first muscle group you choose - but not to the point of pain. Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds.
· Exhale, relaxing your muscles fully and quickly.
· Relax for a further 10-15 seconds before moving onto other muscles. Notice any changes in your state of mind and body as your practice deepens.
· Continue to work through the rest of your body, paying attention to every sensation.
· Finish by counting to 10, in complete stillness, and bring your awareness back to the present moment.
The idea of humming for relaxation brings to mind pictures of monks perched atop tall hills, monotonous notes being held for several seconds at a time in a state of total serenity.
Bottom line, the practice of humming isn’t quite as mystical or spiritual as it is stigmatized to be. It’s an incredibly simple and effective relaxation technique.
· Dissolve worries by calming the mind.
· Give time for reflection.
· Stimulate creativity.
· Help brings about feelings of peace.
· Relieve stress and anxiety.
Just look for a quiet place to sit, relax the body, inhale and let out a long ‘hmm’ sound as you exhale.
When you run out of breath, breathe in and repeat. Continue this exercise for 10-15 minutes.
Yoga is not only a powerful way to reduce stress and anxiety, but also an excellent form of exercise for the body.
It’s a practice that’s been used for millennia, its roots set in schools of thought like Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
Yoga is an incredibly relaxing practice. As is written in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ‘Yoga is the suppression of the activities of the mind.’
The great thing about yoga is that almost anyone can do it at any age.
Several studies have even recognized yoga as an effective intervention for illnesses such as asthma schizophrenia and heart disease.
Here’s an outline of a basic yoga practice. Be sure to explore the varying branches of yoga, constructing a plan the best suits your physical capabilities and preferences.
· Begin with a short meditation or humming exercise to calm the mind.
· Move from warming up with sun salutations to a mixture of standing poses, backbends and forward bends. Be sure to focus on all muscles of the body, from the neck to the feet.
· End your practice with Shavasana, lying still on the floor.
· Take these final minutes of your practice to relax fully, letting the business of your mind settle with the body.
The Chinese martial art of t’ai chi is known not only for its value in defense training but also its numerous health benefits.
It has been accounted as being beneficial in treating a number of ailments, including Parkinson’s and diabetes. Furthermore, the art of t’ai chi has been proven to have beneficial effects against a range of mental disorders.
It is also been measured to reduce levels of cortisol in the blood, increase endorphins and reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the body.
The practice of t’ai chi is centered around improving the flow of ‘chi’, the Chinese concept of intangible energy. It is an incredibly effective way to calm the mind, practice mindfulness, and reconnect with the here and now.
Physical exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins - hormones that interact with the brain and trigger positive bodily feelings, similar to those associated with morphine.
Due to this reason, exercise is known for its ability to alleviate the symptoms of depression, chronic stress, and other mental illnesses.
‘There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people’, says James Blumenthal, Ph.D. of Duke University.
According to a number of studies, Blumenthal concludes that physical exercise is comparable to antidepressants for patients with major stress and depressive disorders.
Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and painful. Even light, steady walks can have significant effects in reducing stress and anxiety.