5 Stress-reducing Exercises to Try at Home
For many of us, feeling stressed out is so common that it feels like our natural state of being. Whether stress is an ever-present companion, or merely an occasional guest, the toll it takes on overall health and mental state is high. The best way to reduce stress, of course, is to eliminate its root causes, but this is often, easier said than done. A highly effective, health-restoring alternative that anyone can benefit from is stress management. Of course, the more stressed out you feel, the harder it may be for you to relax, but mastering relaxation techniques can help. Many of these can be done anywhere, including at home.
According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques help slow down breathing and lower blood pressure levels, allowing body and brain to calm down and deal with the issue at hand. They also improve concentration and mood, reduce feelings of frustration and anger and help eradicate fatigue.
At their core, relaxation techniques are designed to increase bodily awareness and to calm the mind by refocusing attention away from stressful thoughts or situations and instead, concentrating on soothing and calming thoughts. There are a number you can learn on your own and practice at home. The Mayo Clinic lists several, including:
Autogenic Relaxation – This technique combines visual imagery with mental phrasing and body awareness. By visualizing a tranquil setting and repeating calming phrases and affirmations while deep breathing, a de-stressing effect and lowered heart rate is often achieved.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation – As its name implies, this technique requires awareness of individual muscle groups, one at a time. The muscles are tensed and relaxed in gentle succession, creating a sense of calm, often from the toes up to the head and back down. This allows the individual the ability to notice and identify how stress manifests in the body. Some people experience butterflies in the stomach. Others, a stiff neck or headache. Progressive muscle relaxation brings about increased body awareness and reduced stress.
Meditation – Acquiring a meditation practice enables individuals to create an oasis of calm. Many individuals begin their day with meditation, or dedicate a specific area of their homes to this practice with positive results.
Yoga – You don’t have to go to a yoga studio to reap the benefits of this centuries-old practice. Yoga helps the body and brain calm down and sync up, reducing anxiety and increasing self-awareness. Many online programs, CDs and apps demonstrate basic yoga poses at multiple age and fitness levels.
Visualization – This relaxation technique calls upon all the senses to create a calming experience, such as that you would have on balmy, tropical beach or wind-ripped, green meadow. By visualizing the feeling of sand or grass under the toes, the scent of salt air or newly mown hay and the sights of rolling fields or crested waves, stress simply melts away.
Relaxation techniques require some practice. Some may be more comfortable for you than others or, you may decide to rotate them on a daily basis. They are also most effective when used in conjunction with positive thinking and exercise.