9 relaxation techniques for stress

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Stress is the response of our body when it perceives that we are overwhelmed by a certain situation, being an adaptive process of our body. However, high levels of stress can lead to serious organic diseases and / or psychiatric disorders.

Many times when we are faced with high levels of stress, we feel unable to do what we should do and blocked to control it. If you are wondering how to relieve stress and anxiety, relaxation or relaxation techniques can be very helpful. Therefore, in this article on HealthProTips, we want to show you 9 relaxation techniques for stress.

What are relaxation techniques?

Relaxation techniques are a set of strategies that, regardless of the method used in them, aim to reduce the high levels of activation of our autonomic nervous system, on muscle tension, in the presence of anxiety, compared to alertness of our body in general and other psychological aspects, such as stress.

To reduce these levels of activation, relaxation techniques are based on exercises of a generally bodily and respiratory nature, in order to find a muscular and nervous distension.

For this reason, relaxation techniques have become one of the most used psychological intervention strategies in practice, demonstrating their effectiveness in coping with psychological disorders, such as phobias, anxiety, training in social skills, a resource to face the most daily problems.

Types of relaxation techniques

There are numerous relaxation techniques, each of them beneficial, and your choice should be based on the technique that makes the person feel more comfortable and that produces a greater effect. Among the different relaxation techniques we can find muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, but in general all of them are divided into two types of relaxation:

  1. Active or physical techniques, which work from the muscle to the mind and have the objective of reducing muscle tone. Muscle relaxation techniques emerged from Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.
  2. Passive or mental techniques, which work from the mind to the muscle, in order to have a greater control over mental control. In this case, relaxation techniques with this modality arose from Schultz’s autogenic training technique.

Benefits of relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can bring great benefits in our physical, mental and emotional health. It should be noted that relaxation techniques are easy to learn and considerably reduce our levels of tension and discomfort, so they can be used at any time and place in situations of stress. In addition to its ease of application and its effectiveness in reducing discomfort, relaxation techniques contribute to:

  • Provide feelings of well-being and tranquility.
  • Improve the quality of sleep.
  • They increase the ability to cope with stressful situations.
  • It provides benefits in our body, such as a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and / or muscle, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
  • They contribute to our mood, helping to improve mood and increasing emotional stability.
  • Its practice increases the capacity for concentration and memory.
  • Decrease physical pain, such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, …
  • They help to increase the capacity for self-control.

Relaxation techniques for stress in psychology

Stress can lead to problems in both our physical and mental health, because of its high levels of activation in the body and in front of it, come into play relaxation techniques, which have been used as a coping strategy in the situations that overwhelm us, in order to counteract the activation we feel due to stress. There are different types that meet different objectives and have different benefits, such as sleep relaxation techniques, relaxation techniques for anxiety, guided relaxation techniques, mental relaxation techniques.

The operation of the techniques will be different in each technique, however all of them share a common element, the ease of application of their practice. Next, let’s see some of the most frequent relaxation techniques and how they should be applied:

  1. Progressive muscle relaxation

The progressive muscular relaxation allows that, before high levels of stress and anxiety, we enter a state of numbness, by means of the muscular relaxation, that allows us to relax both physically, as well as psychically for the relaxation that supposes, since the distension of the muscles helps reduce stress and anxiety. How it is performed? The step-by-step progressive relaxation Jacobson consists of the realization of three phases:

  1. Tension-relaxation phase:the exercise seeks to reach a state of muscle relaxation progressively throughout the body and for this, the person must understand and feel the difference between tensed and relaxed muscles. For this, in this phase all the muscles of the body are tensed and relaxed, during 5 to 10 minutes, so that the person becomes aware of the two states in which the muscle is. The order of tension and distension of the muscles follows a specific order, beginning by relaxing the face, then the neck and shoulders, then the arms and hands, then the region of the legs and finally, the area of ​​the thorax, abdomen and lumbar.
  2. Check phase: this phase consists of checking if the different muscles of our body remain relaxed.
  3. Mental relaxation phase:while our whole body remains relaxed, we must mentally evoke an image, with the aim of also relaxing our mind while relaxing our body. This exercise will last between 10 and 15 minutes and it is essential to do it thoroughly, without hurry.
  4. Technique of autogenic training

The technique of autogenic training is a technique designed to control stress through self-regulation, based on the awareness of one’s own bodily sensations. A tip to be able to perform this technique, is that previously there is a mastery over progressive muscle relaxation and once acquired, it is easier to perform it. Let’s see what his steps are, in his shorter training formulas:

  1. Heaviness exercise: in this first exercise, the person should concentrate on the heaviness of their limbs, starting with the right or left arm. To do this, you must repeat the phrase “the right-left arm is very heavy” six times and then repeat once “I am very calm”. The two sequences will be repeated for each arm and will end with the phrase “firm arms, take a deep breath and open your eyes”.
  2. Heat exercise: in this exercise, the concentration that we have put in our arms, will produce a sensation of heat and in front of it, we will have to repeat the phrase “the right-left arm is very hot” and then: “I am very calm” , in the same way as in the previous exercise, it must be done with both arms. With the daily practice of both exercises, we must be able to change from one state to another, moving from the sensation of heaviness to heat and vice versa.
  3. Pulsation regulation: the formulation for this exercise consists in repeating the sentence “the pulse is calm and regular” six times followed by the formulation “I am very calm”.
  4. Regulation of breathing: in this exercise, thanks to the low body activity, a tranquilizing influence is exerted. In this case, the phrase we must repeat six times is “very quiet breathing”, followed by the formulation “I am breathing” once.
  5. Abdominal exercise: the person must repeat six times “the solar plexus is like a current of heat”, the solar plexus is a network of nerves that allows blood to be available for the functioning of the muscles in the face of stress situations. After these 6 repetitions, the person must repeat once: “I am very calm”.
  6. Head exercise: finally, in this last stage, we must repeat 6 times the formulation “the forehead is pleasantly fresh or clear and clear”, followed by “I am very calm”.

In summary, its global composition would be the following:

  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “The right arm is very heavy”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “The right arm is very hot”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “The pulse is calm and regular”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “Very calm breathing”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I’m breathing”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “The solar plexus is like a current of heat”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Repeat the phrase 6 times: “The forehead is pleasantly cool”
  • Repeat the phrase once: “I am very calm”
  • Finish with the phrases: “Firm Arms” “Breathe deeply” “Open your eyes”.
  1. Diaphragmatic breathing

The breathing exercises that induce relaxation, have proved highly effective in combating stress. One of the most characteristic is diaphragmatic breathing, which in addition to reducing stress levels, contributes to increasing concentration and performance, as well as enhancing feelings of self-efficacy and self-confidence.

The first step to perform this technique is to sit in a position where you feel comfortable, while placing one hand on your chest and the other is positioned on the abdomen. While your hands are in this position, you should inhale the air through your nose and concentrate on observing how the hand that rests on your abdomen follows the breaths. Keeping in this position, inhale and hold the air through the nose for 4 seconds and then expel it slowly, for about 8 seconds, through the mouth.

The technique should be performed for approximately 5 minutes, performed twice a day. The greater the practice of the technique, the easier it is to control the stressful circumstances that may appear.

  1. Transcendental meditation

Transcendental meditation is a technique of mind control, which aims to control the stressful stimuli that pass through our mind, through a passive procedure. The technique consists of repetitive repetition of a word, with the aim of avoiding bringing any other image or thought to our mind and if a thought or image invades our consciousness, we must return to that word. It is considered a passive technique since it does not seek to fight against obsessive thoughts, but to focus concentration on the chosen word, all our attention must be devoted to it, so that the person is exempt from being able to attend to the external stimuli that generate stress. In the next article you will find the effects of meditation on the body and mind.

  1. Visualization techniques or guided imagery

The visualization techniques for relaxation, consist of imagining mental pictures about situations, feelings and / or emotions, by following a set of verbal instructions, which induce the imagination to achieve a state of calm and relaxation. A possible example of a visualization exercise would be the following, which integrates the five senses:

  • View: imagine for 20 seconds a snail, a button, an oak, a triangle and a braid of hair.
  • Ear: imagine the doorbell, the wind between the leaves of the trees, people who call you by your name, the notes of a piano, the traffic and how the tap water runs.
  • Smell: try to evoke the smell of vanilla, chlorine, fresh bread and gasoline.
  • Taste: imagine the taste of a strawberry, chocolate, coffee, tomato …
  • Touch: seeks to evoke the sensation of a handshake, touch hot water, a soft blanket, sand …
  • Temperature: imagine that you are sunbathing, the sensation of being in a mountain in full heat, the cold you feel when you touch an ice cube …
  • Kinesthetic: perceive the movement of cycling, swimming, stirring a hot drink, leaving a hanger at the top of the closet …
  1. Mindfulness

The mindfulness training can be an excellent relaxation exercise, because it induces us to concentrate our attention in the present moment and with it, we stop the great amount of stressful stimuli that go through our mind, diminishing with it the stress that they suppose. A mindfulness relaxation exercise, which is demonstrating great effectiveness, is full concentration for 1 minute on our breathing. In the following article you will find what mindfulness is and how it is practiced.

  1. Body Scan

The body scan consists of a meditation exercise that has the purpose of having the person scan all the areas of his body, focusing his attention on the sensations that evokes the concentration in the different determined areas. With this, a sensation of calmness is obtained on our body and with it, also in our mind.

  1. Alternative respiration

The technique of alternate breathing can also be a great exercise to reduce stress, inducing a state of relaxation. This consists of inhaling the air through our nostrils, alternately. Its realization allows us to enter a state of calm, through a very simple procedure. For execution, stay in a meditation posture (sitting cross-legged) and cover one of the nostrils with your thumb, while inhaling the air deeply and slowly through the other. To let the air go, place your thumb in the opposite nostril and let the air go. Repeat the procedure in reverse.

9. Yoga

Yoga, in addition to providing us with great benefits in our physical health, is a physical activity that helps us achieve a state of relaxation, by improving the breathing that occurs and helps reduce the muscular tensions of the body. In the following article you will find more information about benefits and yoga exercises for anxiety.

Finally, if you have children or work with children, it may be useful to read about relaxation techniques for children.

This article is purely informative, in HealthProTips we do not have the faculty to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

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