Let’s face it, stress is unavoidable and one shall be better off with adequate relaxation techniques to face it. Every day, we face countless things that stress us out. Sometimes it is as casual as a traffic jam extending our commute time or noisy neighbours late at night. But sometimes it is more concerning like a loved one being diagnosed with a serious illness or a dangerous virus outbreak in our surroundings. Stressful events are just part and parcel of life and there’s nothing we can do to prevent them from arising.
While yes, it is true that we can’t really prevent stressful things from happening altogether, we can control how we react to and feel about them. So, instead of letting these challenging situations take over your life and cause you unnecessary worry, why not get into a peaceful mindset and simply relax?
Of course, that is easier said than done. Luckily, we’ve researched 8 different relaxation techniques you can practice every day! These techniques will help you maintain your cool while experiencing a stressful event, as well as bring more peace and tranquillity to your life in general.
Relaxation technique #1: Take deep breaths
Also known as “breath focus”, this technique will help you concentrate on something other than your problems. You will be able to redirect your mind away from stressful and distracting thoughts so you can think with a clear, relaxed mind.
What you need to do is take slow, deep breaths. These breaths should come from your diaphragm and not your lungs – meaning your lower belly should expand instead of your chest. Count your breaths, and as you do, you will feel the tension leave your body. The relaxation starts from the first breaths but you can make it last up to 20 minutes for maximum benefits.
Relaxation technique #2: Practice mindful meditation
Simply mindfully meditating for five minutes a day can create a hugely positive change in your mood. Research suggests it helps with anxiety and depression too!
First, find a quiet room where you will not be interrupted or distracted. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Then, focus on the present moment without letting your mind drift to the past or the future. Think about the now – the feel of your clothes on your skin, the gentle hum of a fan or air conditioner, the smell of a home-cooked meal drifting in from the kitchen, etc. Start with five minutes every day and work your way up as your ability to focus improves.
Relaxation technique #3: Body scan
This technique combines meditation with deep breathing. While it may be hard at first, you’ll soon be able to master it with a little practice.
Find a spot at home where you can lie down comfortably without interruption. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply. Clear your mind of all thoughts, and then focus on your toes. Continue to breathe deeply, and after every 10 breaths, move your focus to the next body part. Work your way up from your toes your head.
Relaxation technique #4: Practice yoga
Practising yoga has tremendous benefits – it reduces stress while keeping your body fit and healthy. You can practise yoga at home with the help of online tutorials and dedicated apps or go to a yoga studio where you can learn from an experienced instructor. All you need is a yoga mat a bit of will and you’re good to go!
In Hong Kong, we like the Kita Yoga studio, as they offer plenty of classes specifically designed to spread good vibes and reduce stress.
Relaxation technique #5: Guided imagery
When you look at soothing images, you will feel soothed – this is the basis of the guided imagery relaxation technique. It seems too obvious to be true? Give it a try for yourself.
You can either visualize calming images in your mind or look at pictures or videos. Here is a good video example, but it is important that you find images that are calming for you specifically.
Relaxation technique #6: Aromatherapy
Our sense of smell connects to the centres for emotion and memory in our brain. This means that certain smells can evoke happiness and peace in us, as well as remind us of times where we felt those emotions. This is in essence how aromatherapy manages to relax us.
Our top picks for essential oils that will help you relax when you smell them are lavender, vanilla, rose and sandalwood. You will find a vast choice of quality aromatherapy oils on the Lookdiary cosmetics markeplace and have them home delivered.
Relaxation technique #7: Practice Tai Chi
Tai Chi is another exercise that you can practice to help your mind and body relax. Also known as meditation in motion, this technique will promote serenity and release mental, physical and emotional tension as you practice gentle, fluid poses that keep your body constantly in motion.
Lucky for you Tai Chi is very popular in Hong Kong. If you’d like a structured Tai Chi class, check out the Hong Kong Tai Chi School. Alternatively, you can drop by Victoria Park where people practise Tai Chi among the calming greenery every morning. Passers-by are encouraged to join in! You can also check out videos online to practise at home.
Relaxation technique #8: Stretching exercises
Our daily activities cause a build-up of tension in our muscles. This physical tension often translates into mental and emotional tension and causes us to feel unnecessary stress. Spending 10-15 minutes a day stretching our body parts out can easily relieve this tension and help us feel more at peace. When you start looking into stretching exercises it can be endless, so here are a few to start with.
Repeat each stretch 2-3 times. Start with head tilts – simply move your head towards your right and try to touch your shoulder with your ear. Move your head to the centre position, then to the left and repeat. Then, stretch your chin by moving it to your right shoulder, back to the centre position, and then to your left shoulder, then repeat. Now, do shoulder shrugs. Lift the top of your shoulders as close to your ears as possible, hold for a few seconds, release and repeat. Then, stretch your back. Place your palms on your lower back and bend your knees. Push your back forward with your palms and hold for 10 seconds before releasing and repeating.
Here you go, these 8 relaxation techniques can easily be practised every day, and even from the comfort of your own home. The more you practice them the more you will learn about yourself and how to keep your mental load to a minimum. Mindfulness is another chapter you may want to look into if you are getting down this road.