4 great ways to relieve stress

For many of us, ‘relaxation’ means zoning out in front of the TV with a glass of wine at the end of a busy day. While numbing the pain with alcohol may feel good, it does little to reduce the effects of stress. To combat it, we need to activate our body’s natural relaxation response.

The good news is you can do this with a few simple relaxation techniques.

Let’s have a look at a few:

Deep breathing

With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere and provides a quick way to relieve stress.

Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many relaxation practices, including Yoga and Pilates, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy or music to counter the effects of stress. All you need is ten minutes to yourself and a place to stretch out.

What to do: Stand up and breathe in and out, slowly and deeply. Imagine you are filling up a balloon as you breathe in through your nose, and deflating it as you breathe out through your mouth.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Then there’s progressive muscle relaxation, which involves the systematic tensing and relaxing of different muscle groups in the body. With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation can help you understand what tension and complete relaxation feel like in different parts of your body. This will help you spot and counteract the first signs of tension that accompany stress.

What to do: Lie in a darkened room, take off your shoes and get comfortable. Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out slowly. Shift your attention to your right foot. Slowly tense the muscles, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10. Then relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away as your foot becomes limp. Then shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release. Move slowly up through each muscle group in your body, ending with your face.

The tension will have literally drained away by the end.

Massage therapy

Massage is an effective method of relieving stress and anxiety. It’s renowned for its therapeutic effects, especially when combined with massage oils. The combination of the smell of the oil, the absorption of the oil into the skin, and the energising massage can help chase away even the most stubborn muscle tension and stress from your body.

Pilates

The Pilates method is a very mindful form of exercise. Rather than blasting through high-intensity exercises to ‘feel the burn’, you focus on each movement with intention and awareness. Learning the skill of mindfulness can have a significant impact in your daily life. Learning to be mindful helps you to focus, stay present and manage seemingly ‘stressful’ situations with more ease.

For those who struggle with traditional meditation, Pilates may be a good alternative. The mindful movement can provide similar benefits of meditation while keeping the body active.

What to do: Feel the stress relieving benefits of Pilates for yourself by joining us at pilatesbodyshape for a mat or reformer class. Call Rima on 020 8579 7879 or email info@pilatesbodyshape.co.uk for more details.

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