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Relaxation Techniques for Stress Management
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Stress can be an important motivating factor in our lives, but sometimes the stressors can build up to a point that they become overwhelming. Finding ways to relax ourselves and de-stress is an important skill to learn for the overall preservation of our physical, mental, and emotionally wellbeing. Whether it is through breathing exercises, relaxing music or any other technique, learning what works for you is an important step in the relaxation process.  Are you the type of person who needs a calm quiet place? Do you thrive around others? Do you need to go for a long drive?  In this article we will examine different ways to relax yourself and the usefulness of each method. 

The most common way people choose to relax is through breathing exercises. While it is true that we are constantly breathing, it is most rarely at a pace and manner that is conducive to relaxation. This failure becomes even more apparent when we are placed in a stressful situation.  All mental focus becomes lost when both our breathing and psychological state are off-balance. The key to managing our breathing is to breathe from your diaphragm and not your chest.  At least of 70% of people do not use their diaphragm for optimized breathing. The best way to tell if you are breathing successfully is to place your right hand in the center of your chest or your diaphragm, (which is 3-5 inches above your bellybutton) and you left hand on your stomach. If both hands are moving in tandem with one another then you are breathing in the most optimized manner.

Another excellent way to relax that many people take for granted is sleep.  Most of us simply do not get enough sleep to run efficiently.  The average adult needs about 8 hours of sleep to run at the peak performance.  Most of our sleep problems can be attributed to distractions that we take for granted and might not necessarily see as problematic, such as having a television or too many distracting lights in your bedroom.  A bedroom should exist as a room primarily for sleeping and your bed should be a spot for sleeping only. You should not eat, read, or engage in other such tasks in your bed.  This doing all sorts of activities in bed tricks our bodies into thinking that we do not need necessarily need to sleep in our beds and can lead to many restless nights. 

Using music and other pleasing sounds can also be a great way to relax and manage stress. If you are feeling stressed go to a quiet, secluded place, put headphones into your ears, and turn on some relaxing music or even some nature soundscapes. Keep in mind that the type of music that will relax us differs from person to person.  One person’s relaxing music might irritate another person. You need to find what type of relaxation CD works for you. Soundscapes or other relaxation sounds are an excellent relaxation technique. There is something about the sound of waves crashing on a beach or a calm thunderstorm in the distance that will soothe you and eliminate the stress. Relaxation CDs with nature sounds also vary greatly, so sample some different relaxation CDs to find what works best for you. White noises such as this do not necessarily have to be emanating from headphones. Something like an oscillating fan in your bedroom can provide a great background noise to use for relaxation.

Another type of relaxation CD that can be extremely beneficial is guided narration CDs or guided relaxation scripts. In these types of programs, a narrator will lead you on a visual journey out of your present and into a relaxing, imaginative state of mind. These CDs can also include forms of positive self-talk or self-affirming mantras. You speak aloud along with the narrator, repeating the reassuring script and relaxing as the positive messages begin to penetrate your mind.

These three relaxation techniques when combined will almost always ease the mind and eliminate stress. Of course, these are not the only three relaxation techniques, but these methods are simple, effective, and easily accessible. Many religions also focus on ways to relax. Buddhism promotes meditation, which many feel is the best way to relax.  Meditation includes all three of the aforementioned tactics. Meditation takes it one step further, employing chanting and empowering mantras. Meditative states can also recharge our bodies and minds. Whichever tactic you chose to pursue for stress management, the ultimate goal of any relaxation technique is to bring balance and calm to your body, mind, and soul despite the pervasive pressures of daily life.

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