Congested rush-hour traffic, job demands, deadlines, tricky relationships at work, or money concerns. Have you experienced any of these stressful situations? In fact, anyone can experience stress. It tends to lead us to look for ways to alleviate this overwhelming feeling. There are certain relaxation techniques that can help.
As a matter of fact, learning to deal with these situations and preventing them from becoming a constant source of stress is essential if you want to take care of your physical and mental health. Indeed, stress can be the gateway to many diseases. So, we’re going to suggest some really simple relaxation techniques. But, first, we’re going to define stress.
According to the book, Comprender el Estres, (Understanding Stress) by Xavier Torres, stress is a normal physiological response of the body to the demands of the environment. As such, it’s considered an essential and effective reaction for survival. However, when the individual can’t manage these demands, stress becomes harmful and jeopardizes their well-being.
Stress causes an increase in the secretion of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. They prepare the body to react to the perceived threat. Moreover, the increase of these substances in the body makes the individual more prone to disease.
Causes and types of stress
Stress can be caused by many different factors. For example, work, personal relationships, health, etc. The stress response has different levels of intensity and can be situational and of short duration, or prolonged and sustained over time.
According to a study published in the journal, Medical Humanities, there are different ways of categorizing stress. One of the most common is as follows:
- Chronic. It lasts for weeks, months, or even years. It’s caused by various factors. The negative effects of this typology are long-term.
- Traumatic. It arises after a natural disaster, an assault, or a serious accident. The most common manifestation is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Acute. It’s experienced in short, high-intensity situations, such as an accident or a fight. It can be useful for dealing with a specific event. However, if it persists for a long time, it has negative consequences on physical and mental health.
It should be noted that these types can overlap with each other. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of stress in the body and learn to manage them appropriately.
Eustress versus distress
Have you ever heard it said that we tend to work better under pressure? Do you think that some stress is good for us? The answer is yes, there’s a kind of stress that’s beneficial for performance and motivation. It’s known as positive stress or eustress.
Based on research published in the Redices Repositorio Institucional, eustress is understood as the body’s physiological and psychological response to situations perceived as challenging or exciting. This type of stress increases energy and motivation and improves concentration.
Eustress is different from negative stress, also known as distress, which occurs in situations perceived as threatening or dangerous. But can eustress become distress? The answer is yes.
In fact, it’s important to note that eustress is only beneficial if it’s kept at moderate levels and controlled. If it becomes too intense or prolonged, it turns into distress and has negative health consequences.
Relaxation techniques for relieving stress
Stress is a common problem in our modern society. In addition to disrupting our physical health, it affects our mental well-being. Luckily, there are several relaxation techniques that can help quickly relieve this feeling.
Deep breathing is a simple and effective relaxation technique. It helps reduce stress in a matter of minutes. By practicing it, you decrease your heart rate and reduce your cortisol levels.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Feel how the air fills your abdomen and hold your breath for a few seconds. Then, exhale slowly through your mouth.
Meditation is popular for lowering stress and anxiety levels. There are many forms of meditation, but one simple way is to sit in a quiet place and focus on your breathing. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to focus on your inhalations and exhalations once more.
Visualization involves imagining a calm and relaxing place. Think of a beach, a lush garden, or any other place that makes you feel peaceful and happy. Focus on the details of that space and try to project yourself there.
Yoga combines physical postures with breathing and meditation, which is why it’s an excellent relaxation technique. Even if you’re inexperienced, you can try some simple poses, like Child’s Pose or Downward Facing Dog.
Do an activity you like
Doing something you enjoy is really useful for clearing your mind. For instance, you can read a book, listen to music, or draw.
Take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. This will make you feel calmer and improve your mood.
Take care of yourself
Spend time on self-care by learning to recognize and manage your emotions and mood. It’ll help you deal with conflicts in a healthy way.
What if you have too little time for relaxation techniques?
If you have little time to practice relaxation techniques for the purpose of relieving stress, don’t worry. Some options don’t require investing long periods of time. Next, we list some suggestions proposed in the book, Managing Stress, by Brian Luke Seaward
- Take a break. Giving yourself a few minutes to get away from a stressful situation goes a long way. If possible, change your location or activity for a while.
- Listen to relaxing music. If you have a few minutes to spare, listen to music to relieve your stress. Pick a song or playlist that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Simple stretches. They release tension and reduce stress in a short time. You can do some simple ones like leaning to the sides, stretching your arms up toward the ceiling, or rotating your shoulders.
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a quick and effective stress-relief technique. Take a few minutes to focus on the present moment and observe your thoughts and physical sensations without judging them. You can do this while walking, waiting in line, or during a break at work.
Incorporating relaxation techniques to relieve stress in your daily routine
Incorporating relaxation techniques into your everyday life is a great way to improve your overall well-being. You can try the following:
- Take breaks. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to practice deep breathing or use visualization to recharge yourself.
- Make relaxation a priority. Make sure you take time for yourself, every day, even if it’s just a few minutes. You’ll soon see how your quality of life and well-being improve.
- Use reminders. Set alarms on your phone or in your calendar to remind you when it’s time to practice a relaxation technique. This will help you to be more consistent.
- Establish a routine. Set a time to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, when you get up or before going to bed. This will ensure that they become a habit.
- Find quiet moments. Look for opportunities where you can practice stress-relieving techniques. For instance, when you’re waiting in line or riding public transportation. Use this time to close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
If you need it, seek support to relieve your stress
We all need help at certain times in our lives. Talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Remember that there’s no single solution. Find the relaxation techniques that best suit you. Make an effort to incorporate them into your life, creating a habit so that, in the absence of motivation, you have discipline.
It’s important to bear in mind that effective stress management is an ongoing process and requires time and effort. If your symptoms persist, see a professional to identify and treat any underlying issues.
Remember that these are just a few examples and that we all have different strategies for relieving stress. You simply need to find what works best for you and practice it regularly, for improved results.
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