In today’s western culture it’s all go, go, go! Technology has led us to be constantly absorbing ourselves in a wealth of information and it’s no wonder that we’re often overwhelmed with unnecessary stress, at work and at home. The only way to really deal with this stress is to stop and take check of our bodies, our minds and our thoughts. It’s easy to get caught up in plans and worries about the future, or dwell in irritations of the past; to achieve calm we need to slow down and focus on the present. There are various relaxation techniques that are designed to help you focus on the ‘now’, let go of tensions and unwind.
Meditation is the most powerful practice of this. It is performed to allow a break from any busy lifestyle and to help simplify your thoughts. You may have images of hippies sitting cross legged on a shag-pile rug, humming – but meditation can be completed anywhere, even at your office desk.
To try your hand at meditation, all you need to do is to concentrate on your breathing – let the sounds of slow, deep breaths interrupt the buzz of your daily thoughts. Fill your lungs with fresh air and as focus on the air passing between your lips as you exhale. Try gentle relaxation motions with your head and shoulders too. Roll your shoulders in a circular motion, forwards, then backwards. Then slowly tip your head from side to side; leaning your right ear on your right shoulder, and your left ear on your left shoulder. Then repeat.
If you’re not keen on the idea of sitting still and concentrating on relaxation, some people will find this the opposite of relaxing, then a spa day is always welcome break. Spa treatments have been proven to clear your mind and provide various other health benefits. A head massage for example can stimulate blood circulation and improve your alertness. A back massage can relieve physical tensions and release unwanted toxins from your body. Indulgent treatments like a manicure or pedicure can also help you to unwind and boost self-esteem.
Exercise can also be used as a form of relaxation! For those who enjoy sports or dance classes just 30 minutes a day can help reduce stress levels and release endorphins which are great for your body and mind. Swimming and walking are ideal for those who prefer gentle forms of exercise.
Finally, one of the best ways to unwind is to have a good giggle! You know the saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ and this applies to mental strains as well as physical ailments. Spend time with people you love to really relax or rent a good comedy film and sit back for a chortle. Relaxation techniques don’t need to be done in a gym or yoga class. You just need to find what it is in life that distracts you from your anxieties – in a healthy and positive way, as opposed to drink or comfort eating.