One of the worst things about stress is that it is not always clear how to deal with it. If you’ve ever been stressed about something and then began to feel even more stressed because you couldn’t get in control of these anxious feelings, you will understand.
How-ever, there are a number of progressive relaxation techniques which you can use in order to help you get control over your stress and relax more. Understanding the various techniques for relaxation, finding out which ones work best for you, and applying them to your life when necessary is important in managing your stress and anxiety and staying in control.
Being able to relax and collect your thoughts is absolutely vital when it comes to finding yourself in situations which cause your stress levels to rise and make you anxious. Using good relaxation techniques can help you to gain control over your feelings and deal with them before they worsen.
Progressive relaxation techniques: Breathing
Deep breathing is one of the most commonly used techniques by people who suffer from high stress levels, or anxiety or panic attacks. When you start to feel your stress levels rising, taking a few deep breaths can be an easy way to quickly check yourself and get in control of the situation. Taking a moment to consciously breathe in and out deeply means that you will be momentarily distracted by focusing on your breathing rather than on what is stressing you out.
Knowing which breathing techniques work for you and when to use them is important to helping to control your stress levels and make sure that anxiety and worry does not take over in stressful situations. Timed, deep breathing can make all the difference when it comes to taking control over your emotions and thoughts during stressful times.
Breathing deeply in for four seconds and then exhaling slowly for four seconds, repeatedly until you begin to feel calmer, can be one of the simplest exercises to do when it comes to managing your stress. Breathing in through your nose will create a natural resistance to the breath and help you to focus on breathing and staying calm rather than on whatever is causing you to feel stressed and anxious.
Breathing: Advanced Techniques
Although basic deep breathing is something that anybody can do in order to recollect themselves and regain their calm in particularly stressful situations, sometimes enhanced levels of stress call for more advanced, focused breathing techniques. These breathing techniques are used by yogis and even during meditation to help bring calm to the body and mind.
Alternate nostril breathing: This breath is said to bring calm and balance, something which you will certainly appreciate if you are feeling particularly stressed out about a certain situation. You should make sure that you are comfortably posed before doing this breathing technique as it requires focus and stability.
Known as Nadi Shodhana, you carry out this breathing technique by covering your right nostril with your thumb and inhaling deeply through your left nostril. At the point of inhalation, uncover your right nostril and cover the left, to exhale through your right nostril. This is a great breathing technique for times when you need to focus more, such as before an exam or a presentation.
Abdominal breathing techniques: Placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath in through your nose until the diaphragm inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Taking around six to ten of these kind of breaths for about ten minutes per day can help to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, some-thing which is hugely important in dealing with stress.
Sometimes you may think that you’re relaxed –perhaps you’re taking a hot bath, or lounging on the sofa at the weekend but in reality, there’s a million thoughts running through your mind. It’s possible to try and relax our bodies, but when it comes to dealing with stress, it’s also important to make sure that you work to relax your mind, as well.
Breathing techniques can help with conscious relaxation as carrying them out forces you to focus on your own breathing and ignore other thoughts which could be causing you to stress out or worry. Focusing on breathing and making a conscious decision to relax helps you to gather thoughts which are spiraling out of control and get a handle on your stress.
One of the best ways to consciously relax your whole body and mind is to practice progressive relaxation techniques. In order to get rid of as much tension as possible from your head right down to your toes, you should close your eyes and focus on tensing, and then relaxing, each of your muscle groups for a couple of seconds each.
Feet and toes
Start with your feet and toes, and then move up-wards, through the knees, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, facial muscles, and even around the eyes. While doing this, it is important to maintain slow, deep breaths.
At first, it may be difficult to remain focused, so breathing in through the nose, holding for a count of five, then releasing the breath slowly can help. Remember that if holding your breath ever feels uncomfortable, you should shorten the amount of time to one which you can easily deal with.