Getting Relaxed


How does relaxation help with stress?

When we’re under a lot of stress, we often remain in a state of high alert, unable to physically or mentally switch off. Over time, this can contribute to chronic physical tension and mental strain. Relaxation skills can help decrease mental strain so that we can respond more calmly to stressful events, thoughts, and feelings. These skills can also help diminish physical tension and other bodily symptoms.

Stress and relaxation can be seen on a continuum that progresses from relaxed to stressed.

Why is it hard to relax sometimes?

Even though relaxation is not inherently complicated, you still may find it difficult. There can be several reasons for this:

  • Your mind and body have forgotten how to relax due to long-term stress, and your default state is one of stress and tension.
  • You never learned relaxation skills.
  • You’re concerned that if you get too relaxed, you won’t get your work done.

Informal relaxation techniques:

  • Everyone has their own ways of informally relaxing: reading, listening to music, watching a movie, taking a hot bath or shower. Do what works for you and make sure to make time for it in your schedule.
  • Remember that relaxing does not necessarily mean being physically inactive. Exercise can be a good stress burner, and can help you relax.

Semi-formal relaxation techniques:

When stress is high, informal relaxation techniques might not be sufficient to help mitigate it. Scheduling semi-formal relaxation may be needed.

Massage: Receiving a full-body massage is a great way to deeply relax your muscles.

  • You can book a professional massage.
  • You can give yourself a brief shoulder massage: Take hold of your shoulder with the opposite hand and massage in a circular motion.

Yoga: Basic yoga incorporates slow, gentle movements, stretching and stamina exercises, and relaxed breathing. Check in with your doctor before starting yoga if you’re unsure whether you’re medically able to participate.

Tai Chi: Usually practiced in groups, tai chi consists of slow, flowing movements, relaxed breathing, and focusing attention on the here and now.

Formal relaxation techniques:

Under chronic stress, informal and semi-formal relaxation techniques might not be sufficient to break the habit. Formal techniques include:

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