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Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body
There are lots of ways to relax. Some, like guided imagery, are designed to relax your mind. Others, like progressive muscle relaxation, help relax your body. But because of the way the mind and body are connected, many relaxation methods work on both the mind and the body.
How can you relax your mind and body?
Relaxing the mind
Here are some things you can do to help relax your mind. Try a few to see what works best for you.
- Take slow, deep breaths.
When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to you to calm down and relax.
- Practice mindful meditation.
The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on things that are happening right now in the present moment. For example, listen to your body. Is your breathing fast, slow, deep, or shallow? Do you hear noises, such as traffic, or do you hear only silence? The idea is just to note what is happening without trying to change it. This may take some practice.
- Write about stressful things and events.
It may help to write about things that are bothering you. Write for 10 to 15 minutes a day about stressful events and how they made you feel. Or think about tracking your stress. For example, write down what was happening when you felt the stress, and how intense the stress was. This helps you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel.
- Use guided imagery.
With this technique, you imagine yourself in a certain setting that helps you feel calm and relaxed. You can use online videos, scripts, or a teacher to guide you through the process.
- Let your feelings out.
Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to. Talking with friends, family, a counselor, or a spiritual advisor about your feelings is a healthy way to relieve stress.
- Do something you enjoy.
You may feel that you're too busy to do these things. But making time to do something you enjoy can help you relax. Try:
- Soaking in a warm bath.
- Listening to music. You can also try music therapy.
- Going out with a friend.
- Playing with and caring for pets.
- Finding a hobby you enjoy.
- A creative activity, such as writing, crafts, or art.
- Volunteer work.
- Laughter. Humor may reduce stress and boost your immune system.
Relaxing the body
Here are some things you can do to help relax your body.
- Get regular exercise.
Regular exercise is one way to manage stress. For many people, walking is a great way to get started. Even everyday activities such as housecleaning or yard work can reduce stress. Stretching can also relieve muscle tension.
- Try relaxation techniques.
- Breathing exercises. For example, you can try deep breathing exercises.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique reduces muscle tension. You do it by relaxing separate groups of muscles one by one.
- Yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. These techniques combine exercise and meditation. You may need some training at first to learn them. Books and videos are also helpful. You can do all of these techniques at home.
- Get a massage, or have someone give you a back rub.
- Have a warm drink that doesn't have alcohol or caffeine in it.
Try herbal tea or warm milk, for example.
- Try biofeedback.
Biofeedback teaches you how to use your mind to control skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, or blood pressure. All of these things can be affected by stress.
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