Collectively, we need a break! To say the last year has been challenging would be a gross understatement. Regardless of where or what you work, if you want to calm your mind you must stop doing what you do for a second and invest the time in learning these relaxation techniques.
From meditation apps to virtual meditation groups and instruction, meditation is growing in popularity as it encourages you to relax and your mind. Meditation practices can be completed virtually anywhere, so long as you are in an environment in which you are comfortable and are able to enjoy minimal noise and distractions.
A simple way of relaxing the mind with minimal expense or training is with a method called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Start by lying on the floor, on your back with your hands by your side, and your eyes closed. Imagine you are at the most relaxing place you could imagine, it may include a tropical island, waterfalls, whatever you find relaxing. Whilst you are thinking about the sight, smell, and sounds of your surrounding take 20 long, deep breathes. Once you have reached 20, you will be ready to begin the muscle relaxation. Start at the toes by tightening (contracting) the muscles in the toes for 5 seconds then relax them. As you relax them feel the tension sink from those muscles and escape the body into the ground. Work your way slowly through the body going to the feet, calves, upper thigh, abdominals, hands, arms, chest, shoulders, neck, and then the face. Each time feeling the body sink deeper into the floor as the tension is released from your muscles. Finish with 10 more deep breathes.
To those who are new to meditation, Rinzler suggests practicing a simple 10-minute exercise: Just breathe.
"Sit in a relaxed but uplifted posture, extending upward through the spine. Rest your hands on your lap to offer extra back support. Tuck in the chin slightly and relax the muscles in your face. Then simply tune into the natural flow of your body breathing."
If you find your mind wandering, that doesn't mean you're bad at meditating. "Simply acknowledge you drifted off, which happens to everyone, and bring your focus back to the breath."
Massage is a great way to promote recovery because it increases blood flow deep into the muscles. Massages are also very relaxing! Swedish massage is generally the lightest form, but some people really like a deep tissue massage.
One of the immediate benefits of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm. This occurs because massage prompts the release of endorphins – the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of wellbeing.
Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are also reduced. Studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones impair the immune system.
Some of the physical benefits of massage and myotherapy include:
- reduced muscle tension
- improved circulation
- stimulation of the lymphatic system
- reduction of stress hormones
- increased joint mobility and flexibility
- improved skin tone
- improved recovery of soft tissue injuries
- heightened mental alertness
- reduced anxiety and depression
Sleep is often what people do when they have finished everything else for that day, but it must become a higher priority. A lack of sleep makes people irrational, moody, and low on energy. Aim for 7-9 hours sleep per night. To ensure a great night sleep try to avoid too much alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine and be sure to unplug from everything, including your cell phone, about an hour before bedtime.
Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to get good quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested when you wake up.
Kick back, relax, and listen to any music that you enjoy. You will be surprised at how mentally refreshing this can be!
Listening to ‘relaxing’ music (generally considered to have slow tempo, low pitch, and no lyrics) has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy people and in people undergoing medical procedures (e.g., surgery, dental,
Research has shown that the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. In a study of stroke survivors, listening to music helped them experience more verbal memory, less confusion, and better focused attention.
Watching movies can provide stress relief, escapism, a way to get out of a routine and relax. And it may have a benefit to heart health, emotional health, mental health, and more.