Ultimately, we all have the power to choose how we are going to react to day to day stresses. We do indeed have the ability to minimize the negative effects of stress purely by our conscious attitude towards the source of our stress. But until we have mastered control over our thoughts patterns, there are physical and mental exercises that will mitigate the damaging effects of stress. The following methods will show you just how to relax your mind and body and reduce the stress of day to day living.
It's no secret that we are all living with too much stress: our economy, cost of living, health issues, tensions at the office, relationship tensions, and the news media. Just never listening to the news, in itself would be the therapeutic and would contribute greatly to our peace of mind and well being. But alas, we all succumb to curiosity and we think we need to know what is happening. So we listen and we read. These are all things that are part of life and can not be avoided. The good news is that there is much we can do to alleviate some of this wear and tear on our psyches and bodies. You can learn how to relax your mind.
We do not have to be ravaged by life!
These days most of us, in practice all of our everyday activities, are driving with the brakes on.
The worst part is, we are not even consciously aware that the brakes are in use, nor that the severe loss of energy from our clenched jaw or other constricted muscles results in serious physical and mental fatigue.
Tension is wasted effort, a drain on the adrenals, and a squandering of energy into tasks that should be done automatically. A good example of this is the speaker who tries too hard to speak correctly and starts to stutter and becomes tongue-tied. Tension (the brakes) becomes an unconscious habit. That habit spells the end of relaxation, and is fertile ground for stress-related maladies. Knowing how to relax your mind takes practice and diligence.
The mind / body connection here is indisputable. In order to relax your mind you must relax your body. According to the tenets of Hatha Yoga, in order to relax the body, paradoxically, we must first produce more tension, this time conscious tension.
Here is one of the best "exercises" for relieving tension:
Lie flat on the floor, arms at your side. A series of long, slow breaths (in and hold, out and hold), will help to begin the process of relaxation. Inhale deeply, and each time you exhale, feel your spanish melt a little deer into the floor. Feel your muscles let go. But as we said, in order to relax one must first produce more tension. Start with your left leg. Tense all its muscles – the calf, the thigh, the buttocks – as tightly as you can. Squeeze hard. Harder. Then let go. Relax totally and let your leg "disappear" until you can not feel it anymore. Repeat the process with your right leg. Continue, tensing and releasing your left arm, then your right, your abdomen, your face, until your whole body seems to have "disappeared". Continue crying there, breathing, floating on air, as long as you like. Relax your body. Relax your mind and let the stress float away.
As you go through the day observe tension in your body. Do you have the "nervous habit" of fidgeting with your hands? Do you clench them? Do you scrunch up your face or furrow your brow? Do you wiggle your foot? This is nervous tension sending fight or flight signals to the body. Not as innocent as we might think, this tension taxes the adrenal glands and stresses the nervous system. Learn to stay conscious of these signs of stress. When the hands are tense the whole body is geared for action. Learning to relax your hands when you are under pressure will give you a feeling of relief and mastery. The rest of your body will eventually get the message and relaxation will become your new habit.
Breathing is key to body relaxation. Anxiety has taken most of us by the throat. We severely dare to breathe deeply anything, and our breathing has become shallow. Breathing deeply is as important as eating lunch. When you take your lunch break, also take five minutes to inhale deep, slow, belly breaths. Fill your belly with fresh air. Hold the breath in, then exhale slowly. Hold the air out for several seconds. Repeat this process at least five times. Let deep breathing become a habit. It slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles and clears the mind. This is an excellent technique for how to relax your mind and reduce stress.
The workplace is stress's playground. People are bombarded with stress related challenges at work. Give yourself a break and be sure that the chair you sit in is ergonomically designed to properly align your body and prevent unnecessary tension on muscles and joints. Sitting in a chair that has been engineered for human activity and the human body is more essential that most people realize. And it's not just physical. It also affects how oxygen is being absorbed by your brain cells, which has to do with how well you are able to think.
During your work day, take time to walk around the office in hourly intervals and if possible get out into some fresh air several times a day.
Finally, practice smiling. There is a mind / body connection with the smile. It announces to the body that all is well, which then sends a message to the brain that all is well. And, this also sends a message to your colleagues that all is well, so that they will turn smile and be better, healthier and happier, too. A simple smile is one superb method for how to relax your mind and reduce stress.