Stress Release with a Twist:
Unexpected Ways to Find Your Calm
Whether you’re a busy professional looking for a quick break during the work day or a stay-at-home parent in need of some “me” time, I guarantee you’ll find at least one method on this list you haven’t tried before.
Physical Relaxation Techniques
If you find you need to drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and physically relax, here are some activities to try.
1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation 💪
For many of us, stress is such a common part of our daily lives that we hardly notice when our muscles tense up. If you find yourself feeling stiff, tense, or constantly stressed, working a technique like progressive muscle relaxation into your day can help some of that tension melt away. This unique technique only requires two simple steps—tensing your muscles and then relaxing them. First, decide which muscle group you want to target, such as your neck, shoulders, or left hand. Then tense only those specific muscles for about five seconds. After five seconds have passed, exhale and quickly relax those muscles. The wonderful thing about this practice is that it’s short, so you can incorporate it throughout your day or block out about 15 minutes if you want to work through multiple muscle groups back-to-back.
2. Tai Chi 🏯
If you want to dedicate a little more time, then Tai Chi may be what you are looking for. Originally from ancient China, Tai Chi was originally a style of martial arts, but today it is commonly used as a technique to improve physical health and balance the body and mind. This means that you can try it as a gentle type of exercise to help you stay fit and simultaneously train your mind to relax and be in tune with your body and what it is trying to tell you. Tai Chi movements are fluid, slow, and graceful. The main idea is to move as if you are pushing against something. Imagine moving in water—that gentle resistance is what you move against with parts of your body to help you relax. What’s great about this is that people of all ages can try this relaxation technique.
Mental Relaxation Techniques 🧠
Need something to help clear and refocus your mind? Try one of these mental relaxation techniques.
1. Guided Imagery 🌴
Also known as visualization, this technique is all about mentally conjuring vivid, detailed images of peaceful or serene scenarios. It can be used to momentarily divert your attention from a stressful situation, giving your mind time to slow down and reset. To take advantage of this technique, simply think of something that brings you peace, such as a calming memory or a favorite place, then conjures up as much detail as you can so you feel like you are in that space or moment. For example, you can think about taking a walk on the beach, lying in a grassy meadow, swimming in a lagoon, or hugging a supportive family member. As you do this, your mind will start to calm and it will become a mental place your mind can venture to when it needs a moment to relax. Combining this mental exercise with physical relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation can make it even more powerful.
2. Body Scan 💆
This technique takes progressive muscle relaxation to the next level by adding in breath focus, which is a technique that leverages the power of deep, slow, and intentional breathing that helps your mind stay tuned in with your body. The purpose of the body scan technique is to help you be aware of your mind-body connection. You will start by doing some deep breathing and then begin to focus your mind on various body parts. With each part you focus on, you begin to slowly release the tension in that area. With time, you will notice that you are fully relaxed.
Creative Relaxation Techniques
If you find enjoyment in creative activities, then you may find creative relaxation techniques to be exceptionally effective for you. Here are a few we recommend trying.
1. Music Therapy 🎧
Music therapy is a technique that is all about the use of music to alleviate stress, manage pain, boost memory, and express feelings. You can engage the services of a professional music therapist; alternatively, get out your favorite playlist and sing and dance along to help wash some stress away.
2. Art Therapy 🎨
This is the use of visuals like painting or drawing as a way to ease stress and even deal with past trauma. It helps you get in touch with your emotions, feel them, and then deal with them accordingly, which is often the first step in battling chronic stress. You can try your hand at painting, scrapbooking, photography, pottery, or any other type of art that strikes your fancy. One of the wonderful things about art therapy is that it is great for people of all ages or backgrounds, and it can be done solo or with a group of people.
3. Nature-Based Relaxation Techniques 🍁
Sometimes, getting outside and enjoying all that the natural world has to offer is one of the best things you can do for both your body and mind. That’s why nature-based relaxation techniques like forest bathing and earthing are so effective.
4. Forest Bathing 🌳
Forest bathing is a relaxation technique that originated in Japan, where it is known as shinrin yoku. Dubbed a type of ecotherapy, forest bathing is based on the fact that spending time in nature is good for us. Practicing forest bathing is simple—put away your phone and other distractions and head to your favorite natural area. While the name implies you need to be in a heavily wooded area, that isn’t necessarily true. Even spending time walking a local nature trail or bird-watching at a nearby park can help you relax and reap the many benefits nature has to offer. Whenever possible, spend 15 to 20 minutes outside enjoying nature to help your mind disconnect and relax.
5. Earthing 👣
Also known as grounding, the practice of earthing involves spending time outside without shoes. We know it sounds a little odd, but hear us out. When you walk outside barefoot, you are allowing your body to connect directly with the enormous supply of electrons that exist on the surface of the Earth, which research has found comes with a variety of benefits. For example, walking barefoot in nature can help increase blood flow, boost energy, and relieve stress. It is an easy and inexpensive habit that anyone can try in order to embrace its health benefits.
6. Relax a Little 😎
With all the hustle and bustle that comes with everyday life, it’s up to you to ensure that you’re putting your health and wellness first. This means you need to be intentional about giving your mind and body time to rest, relax, and let go of some of the stress it’s been holding on to. That’s why we consider stress management an important part of living life. So go ahead.
Sending You Tons of Love and Humongous Hugs,
Tina “Keeping It Relaxed” McDermott