According to The American Institute of Stress, the definition of stress is subjective and varies from person to person. Therefore, finding ways to combat stress can be just as various. Unfortunately when we are under stress, our bodies will not release excess fat or water. You will not be able to lose weight if you are experience chronic stress. Below you will find several relaxation techniques that only take minutes to combat the stressful times of our current economy.
Deep Breathing. Breathing levels are closely tied to stress levels. Many of us will hold our breaths without noticing. For the next several days, notice your breathing patterns. Do you tend to hold your breath? Are you a shallow breather? Taking a few deep breaths can be very relaxing. Here’s how: inhale slowly and deeply through your nose into your abdomen. Hold your breath for a few seconds, and then gently exhale through our mouth. Repeat 20 -30 times for about five minutes. If you begin to feel light headed, please stop. You are either holding your breath too long.
Yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice from India which helps to develop both physical and mental awareness through focusing on combining postures, breathing exercises, and medication to relax the body. Yoga soothes and tones your nerves and regulates the endocrine system, which is responsible for the production of hormones – one of the keys to both physical and mental health. Hormones also improve digestion and strengthen the respiratory system.
Pilates. Pilates utilizes much of the same breath and postures as yoga and focusing on the use of the mind in controlling the muscles. The program focuses on core postures that help keep the body balanced, strong and aligned. Unlike yoga, Pilates focuses much more on strength.
Visualization. As discussed previously, visualization involves creating relaxing visual images and scenes to bring about body and mind relaxation. To perform: sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Begin with a couple of minutes of deep breathing, then create an image in your mind of a pleasant scene – somewhere you feel calm, relaxed and happy. See, touch, feel, smell and hear the experience to its fullest. Continue for 10 to 15 minutes, then open your eyes and compare the tension in your body and mind to how you felt prior to the exercise.
Journaling. As previously discussed, journaling can be used for many purposes. Research has shown that people who express their emotions on paper, score better on psychological well-being tests and get sick less often. Writing down concerns, feelings or anything that is on your mind is a very positive method to coping. Try to write for 10 minutes a day. Lets the words flow naturally without censoring or securitizing their meaning or the grammar. You may be surprised at what you find hidden in your words!
Mediation. The objective of this technique is to gain control over your attention by clearing the mind and blocking out stressors to bring about relaxation and restore balance. To begin, find a quiet, uncluttered spot and sit in a comfortable yet alert position with your back and spine straight but not strained. Close your eyes and focus on relaxed breathing. When unwanted thoughts begin to enter, acknowledge them then let them slip away, telling yourself that you will come back to them later. Then realign by putting your attention on the rhythm of your own breathing. To help you focus, you may want to silently repeat the word, “one” as you inhale and “two” as you exhale. Try this for 10-15 minutes.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This relaxing technique reacquaints you with the sensation of muscular tension and increases your ability to relax at will. It involves progressively tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups throughout the body from your head to your toes. Although it would be great to set aside 15-20 minutes, you can also do this in 10 minutes. To Begin get yourself seated comfortably then begin by contracting (tensing) the muscle group to about 70% of maximum tension (to avoid cramping) and hold for about five seconds. Focus on what the tension feels like then release. Imagine a warm blue light pulsating throughout your body as you move through the muscle groups. (repeat upwards and downwards).
1. Lower legs and feet: point your toes down. Hold and release
Flex your foot up, hold and release
2. Calf’s and thighs: tighten and release
3. Hips and buttocks: squeeze and release
4. Stomach: tighten your stomach in as if you are trying to touch your belly button to your spine
5. Chest – notice your breathing
6. Back – press shoulder blades together
7. Shoulders, upper arms and hands – tighten and release
8. Forehead, face, jaws and chin – tighten and release
Denise Campbell is a Ph.D.(c) specializing in helping people break through the invisible forces of beliefs, behaviors and biology to lose weight and enjoy life without struggling or suffering. Listen to a 90-minute audio for more helpful tips on how to use your biology to easily lose weight.