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.
Even though relaxation is not inherently complicated, you still may find it difficult. There can be several reasons for this:
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.
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.
Under chronic stress, informal and semi-formal relaxation techniques might not be sufficient to break the habit. Formal techniques include: