I recently came across this article on the Mayo Clinic website about stress management. It articulated three main relaxation techniques and how to practice them.
The first, they defined as “Autogenic relaxation.” This is an internal relaxation technique where you use imagery and body awareness to reduce the stress build-up in your body. For instance, you may visualize a tropical beach with soft white sand and vivid blue waves. The palm tree leaves are gently rustling with the ocean breeze as waves gently lap across the sand. Picturing yourself in that place, relax your breathing and stretch out your muscles slowly.
The second is “Progressive muscle relaxation.” In this technique, you focus on one muscle group and slowly flex then relax each muscle. This helps you become more aware of your muscle tension and subsequently, how to relax that muscle tension. Start from your toes and work your way up to your shoulders and neck. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds, then relax them for 30 seconds. Repeat until you can feel the tension subside.
“Visualization” is the third technique where you avoid stressful situations by escaping to a peaceful place in your mind. Construct a serene sanctuary like a hill in the middle of the woods. Focus on every sensation: the smells, the sounds, how the sun feels on your skin. Close your eyes and rest in this visual getaway.
People use many kinds of products to complement their relaxation techniques: incense, music, wind chimes, scented candles, indoor water fountains, and the like. You can find what works for you, but I encourage you to try out one of these relaxation techniques the next time you’re in a stressful situation.