Relaxation is defined as the state of being free from tension and anxiety. Relaxation has many health benefits, both mental and physical. Some examples include reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, improving concentration and mood, reducing fatigue, reducing anger and frustration, and boosting confidence to handle problems. So, what are some simple things you can do to help feel more relaxed? Here are some ideas!

1. Breathe

We’re always breathing, but sometimes when we’re stressed or overwhelmed our breathing rate is affected. You may find yourself holding your breath, taking shallow breaths, or even hyperventilating. When this happens, you’re most likely adding to the stress response in your body, or in other words, making things worse.

Breathing exercises are one of the easiest relaxation strategies and there are many different ways to do them, but here’s one example. Sit or lay in a quiet, comfortable space. Breathe in to a slow count of three, hold for a slow count of three, and then exhale to the same slow count of three. Repeat this five times, or as long as you need to feel relaxed.

2. Meditate

During meditation, the goal is to focus your attention and eliminate any jumbled thoughts that may be causing you stress.  Meditation is a great way to bring yourself to a deep state of relaxation. And thanks to the internet, tips and resources for meditating are always readily available at your fingertips. Check out some guided meditations on YouTube, or research some apps like “Calm” and “Insight Timer.” There’s also a series on Netflix called “Headspace” where you can find some useful information about meditation and being mindful!

3. Write Down Your Thoughts

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your own thoughts, it may help to get your mind off things by writing them down. If you prefer handwriting, get yourself a notebook or some scrap paper, but you can also do this on a computer or smartphone if that’s easier for you. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to write down short notes about how you’re feeling or how your day is going. And you don’t have to worry about things like grammar and spelling. Just focus on expressing yourself to help release some of that stress!

4. Get Outside

Being outside in nature has many health benefits, and helping us relax is one of them. When you’re feeling stressed, spending even a few minutes outside can help you feel better. You can go for a short walk, read a book at the beach, or simply find a comfortable place to sit outside and take in all of nature’s beauty. 

5. Listen to Your Favorite Music

Music can affect our emotions in different ways, and it has been shown that just listening to music has relaxation benefits. If we listen to calming music, we can expect our mind and body to follow suit and feel more relaxed. It has also been proven that upbeat, cheerful music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which makes us feel happy. So if you’re feeling stressed out, put on your favorite playlist and turn it up. Go ahead, sing along! You know you want to.

6. Laugh

We’ve all heard the quote, ‘laughter is the best medicine.’ But why is that such a popular phrase? Science has shown that laughing not only decreases stress hormones, but can also increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Quite literally medicine! Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. So, if you’re not feeling so good, call up a friend who you know will make you laugh, or put on a funny video that you know will get a few giggles out of you.

7. Start Planning a Trip

Take a break and start browsing some vacation spots. We all need to take a vacation from work every once in a while, but taking a break from life is just as important! Even if it’s just a day trip somewhere local- schedule some time to disconnect from all of life’s stressors and be in the present moment. You won’t regret it!

-Jennifer Tietjen, LMSW

usercrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram