Many people are completely unaware how much tension they carry in their muscles. Most people who live a stressful and fast life are in great risk of having their muscles become chronically tense.
No matter what type of activity you’re taking part in during the day, tension will build up in your body, and this tension will affect your mind, body, spirit, and quality of life. This is exactly why you should take the time to relax your mind and body each and every day, or maybe even a few times throughout the day. This means finding time to relax on a day-to-day basis, versus planning for larger time frames of relaxation such as vacations.
The reason why relaxation should be essential to you is that tense muscles will only cause you to be more stressed out and anxious. Not to mention that your muscles also get affected by your emotions. Basically, each time you get upset, frustrated, stressed or angry, your muscle tension will increase and stress hormones will ravage through your body. This is exactly why relaxation may as well be considered the most important key to well-being and health.
Unfortunately, the majority of people associate relaxation with sitting in front of the TV or sleeping. Unlike proper relaxation techniques, this won’t really help you relieve stress and anxiety. Learning how to properly relax will help you realize exactly what it’s like to be clear-headed and tuned-in.
40 Ways Relaxation Benefits Your Health And Wellness
- Improved heart health: You’ve probably heard that stress can cause many health problems, including an increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other heart issues. Although science has yet to provide us with an explanation as to why stress affects us in this way, the thing we do know is that relaxation can greatly improve your heart health. In fact, stress is often compared to other famous major risk factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet, and hypertension. Whenever you suffer a sudden, enormous amount of stress, you’re in the risk of heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problems.
- Relaxing will help you make better decisions: Some people aren’t even able to decide what to eat when they’re under a lot of stress. According to a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science in 2012, stress can cloud your judgment and change the way to perceive risks and rewards, leading you to potentially make some questionable choices. This is because stress will make you focus only on the positive (ignoring all the cons of the situation your decision creates), as your mind will seek rewards in order to make you feel better and relieve your stress levels.
- Reduced risk of depression: Chronic stress can kill brain cells in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is noted for providing a healthy response to stress. Basically, stress will increase the presence of the negative hormone cortisol, and reduce the presence of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.
- Improved memory: When you’re stressed out, you’re less likely to remember certain things. Short-term memory is particularly impaired if you’re suffering from chronic stress. The development of certain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease is also increased in people who lead a stressful life.
- Relaxing will make you less likely to catch a cold: Stress can double your risk of catching a cold. Your body will hamper your ability to fight inflammation when you’re stressed, thus making you more likely to catch a cold.
- Improved mind/body connection: When you take the time to relax every day, you’ll be so ‘in tune’ and clear-headed that you’ll be able to detect exactly what’s happening in your mind and body at all times. For example, if you’re in the midst of an adrenaline rush, you’ll feel that your heart is working at a much faster rate, and you’ll breathe more slowly as a response to that. This will help you feel better, as breathing slowly is a bodily response that represents the exact opposite of an adrenaline rush.
- Improved sleep quality: Improving your sleep quality is much more important than you think. Getting a good night’s sleep will provide you with enough energy to get through the day effortlessly. Not to mention that sleep is also known for enhancing your mood.
- Increased concentration: If you’re in school or if your line of work requires a lot of precision, then concentration is probably very important to you. When you’re dealing with stress, it can become incredibly hard to focus on anything. Relaxation will make you clear-headed, thus allowing you to concentrate properly.
- Improved problem-solving abilities: We face different kinds of problems every day, and it’s not always easy to solve them. In fact, when you’re under stress, it may be practically impossible to solve certain problems. Thankfully, when you rid yourself of all of the stress that has built up in your body, you’ll be able to fully dedicate yourself to successfully solving any type of problem that might be bothering you.
- Improved efficiency: Getting the work done is not as good as getting the work done in an efficient way. If you want to learn how to complete any task more efficiently, then you’ll need to start practicing relaxation.
- Smoother emotions: Some people have a hard time controlling emotions, especially negative ones. If you let frustration, anxiety, or anger get the best of you, then you need to relieve yourself of all the stress that’s built up inside your body. Knowing how to relax will help you change the way you experience emotions (in a positive way, of course). If you practice relaxation, emotions will never get the best of you.
- Fewer headaches: If you’re a person that suffers from headaches often, then we have good news for you. Relaxation is an awesome and effective way to decrease the risk of headaches.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: In order to treat irritable bowel syndrome, it’s recommended that you take part in a relaxation meditation two times a day. Some of the most notable symptoms of this syndrome include diarrhea, bloating, and constipation.
- Improved fertility: Women are more likely to conceive when they’re relaxed rather than stressed out. It’s also worth noting that relaxation can improve fertility in men as well.
- Improved immunity: In order to live a healthy life, you should ideally take part in any activity that can boost your immunity. A strong immune system will save you from a number of harmful diseases.
- Improved creativity: If your job requires a lot of creativity, then you need to try out some relaxation techniques. In order to be creative, you’ll ideally want your mind to be a blank canvas.
- A healthier posture: When our muscles are tense, we tend to mess up our posture quite a bit. However, a relaxed body will always maintain a healthy posture.
- Relief from pain: When you’re injured and under a lot of stress, your body won’t be able to help you heal at an optimal level. However, a relaxed mind and body will offer you great pain relief.
- A healthier breathing style: When you’re relaxed, you’ll breathe more slowly, which will reduce the need for oxygen and give your heart a rest by slowing down your heart rate.
- Lower blood pressure: Relaxation makes your body less responsive to stress hormones, thus helping lower your blood pressure.
- Reduced risk of a stroke: A study conducted by the University of Cambridge found that people who found a way to relax despite leading a stressful life had a 24% lower risk of stroke.
- Learning to manage labor pain: If you’re expecting your child soon, then you should start practicing certain relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, right away. Practicing relaxation will decrease your need for pain medicine during labor and will help you handle childbirth much easier.
- Reduced fibromyalgia pain: If you’re suffering from fibromyalgia, then you can experience some benefits from achieving relaxation. However, it’s important to note that relaxation techniques will only help reduce your fibromyalgia pain for short periods of time.
- Treating insomnia: Relaxation techniques can be very helpful when it comes to managing chronic insomnia. Although they won’t help you treat your insomnia on their own, they can help when combined with other strategies for improving sleep quality such as avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
- Relief from nausea: When used in combination with anti-nausea drugs, certain relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful in relieving nausea.
- Improved alertness: Not getting enough quality sleep because of anxiety and stress issues can leave you wanting a nap during the day. Sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of car accidents, which is why you should really start practicing some relaxation techniques.
- Aid with hyperventilation: Hyperventilation is a condition that’s associated with fast breathing. When you’re hyperventilation, you exhale way more than you inhale, which disrupts the balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. A lack of carbon dioxide in the body will cause your blood vessels to narrow down, resulting in poor blood supply to the brain. That’s why you may feel lightheadedness or even lose consciousness when hyperventilating. Thankfully, practicing relaxation will help your learn how to control your breathing and help you stop these symptoms.
- Relief from nightmares: People who are suffering from regular nightmares due to posttraumatic stress disorders or because of an unknown cause may finally be able to get a good night’s sleep after practicing relaxation.
- Relaxation can help you quit smoking: If you’re having a hard time giving up cigarettes, then you might be able to benefit from practicing relaxation techniques like guided imagery. By relaxing your mind and neglecting your cravings for cigarettes, you may be able to convince yourself never to smoke again.
- Aid with temporomandibular joint dysfunction: The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the side of the head. When you experience problems with this joint, you may feel pain and difficulty in moving your jaw. Thankfully, relaxation is known for helping relieve the symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
- Treating asthma: Autogenic training is the relaxation technique usually used to help treat asthma. By practicing this technique, you will learn how to control your breathing, which can aid in the prevention of an asthma attack.
- Relaxation will help you control your weight: When you’re tense, you probably won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation affects the way your body stores carbohydrates, which can cause significant weight gain.
- Relaxation will make learning easy: Not only does your memory improve when you’re relaxed, but your brain also processes new information much quicker.
- Enhanced mood: It’s hard to feel good and enjoy life if you’re always tense. By practicing relaxation, you will improve your mood and learn to ignore any negative thoughts you may be having.
- You’ll feel more energetic: Anxiety and stress can have a negative impact on your sleeping habits, which can in turn leave you feeling sluggish almost every day. If you relax regularly, you’ll be able to successfully recharge your batteries every night and wake up in the morning prepared for any challenges that may come your way.
- Improved attention span: When you’re relaxed and mindful, you’ll be less likely to zone out when you’re in a meeting or at a lecture.
- You’ll eat healthier: When you practice relaxation, you’ll stop feeling the need to eat comfort food. Sure, you may crave it occasionally, but you won’t constantly have a desire for it. This is because you’ll decrease the presence of the stress hormone known as cortisol, which increases your appetite and desire for junk food.
- Relaxation will help you fight acne: According to WebMD.com, stress increases the amount of oil that is produced by your skin, which clogs pores and causes acne. However, if you practice relaxation, you won’t have to worry about acne.
- Reduced risk of cancer breast: According to a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research, stress has an effect on breast cancer aggressiveness. You can reduce the risk or delay the progression of breast cancer by doing certain relaxation techniques.
- Relaxing slows down aging: While anxiety is known for accelerating aging, relaxation will actually help slow it down.
13 Good Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques include numerous exercises that will help produce the body’s natural relaxation response, which is normally characterized by lower blood pressure, slower breathing, and a feeling of enhanced mood.
Learning effective relaxation techniques will help you deal with stress in a really healthy way. Besides the obvious relaxing activities, such as regular moderate level exercise, taking vacations, reading and enjoying hobbies that bring out calm and happiness, there are other great techniques that you can practice daily.
One of the most common relaxation techniques is meditation. In order to feel better and become clear-headed, all you’ll need to do is take a few minutes out of your day in order to practice this technique. The reason why meditation works wonders is that it can actually alter the neural pathways of your brain, thus making you more resilient to stress.
Meditating is really simple, you’ll just need to sit with your feet on the floor and close your eyes. You can repeat a positive mantra silently or aloud until you manage to block out all of the distracting thoughts present in your mind. It also helps if you put one hand on your belly in order to synchronize your mantra with your breathing.
Mantras don’t even have to be words; you can simply make a sound that’s calming to you while meditating and this technique is very popular today. While in ancient times, it was used to communicate with deities, and that spiritual component is largely gone, this method of mediation is still very popular. They are noted with providing you with mental distraction, thus forcing your mind to forget about the negative thoughts. Mantras are also known for stimulating the senses, which is a great way to distract from anxiety.
2| Autogenic Training
Autogenic training is a relaxation technique commonly used to treat asthma, hyperventilation, headaches, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and other health problems. By practicing this technique, you’ll learn to use body awareness and visual imagery to achieve a deep state of relaxation. As soon as your mind reaches a peaceful place, you’ll be able to learn how to focus on different physical sensations, such as warmth, a calm heartbeat, slow breathing, and heaviness in the limbs. Autogenic training will take up about 15 minutes of your day.
3| Be Grateful
Now, here’s an incredibly simple relaxation technique. Learning to be grateful for your blessings will help you forget about the stressful events in your life and will erase your negative thoughts and worries. The best way to learn how to be grateful is to start keeping a gratitude journal, in which you will write every positive thing you experienced throughout the day. You don’t have to wait for something major to happen in order to write it down. Something as simple as a sunshine-filled day, running into an old friend, or a chat with your neighbor can fill the pages of your journal.
4| Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is very close to autogenic training. However, the main difference between these two techniques is that guided imagery requires you to listen to either a trained therapist or a guided imagery CD in order to achieve a state of deep relaxation. This technique revolves around you learning how to focus on pleasant images in order to replace the feelings of stress or negative thoughts.
5| Listen To Soothing Music
You wouldn’t believe the health benefits one can experience just by listening to soothing music. Some of the most notable benefits are lower blood pressure, normalized heart rate, and reduced anxiety. If you don’t feel like creating a playlist of soothing songs, know that nature sounds also do the trick. However, know that simply listening to music or these sounds won’t be enough. You’ll really need to focus on every sound on you hear in order to experience deep relaxation.
6| Start Exercising
Exercise will help you blow off steam in a very healthy way. Some of the best exercises for reducing the harmful effects of anxiety and depression include yoga, running, and walking. Exercise will help release the feel-good chemicals in your brain, thus preparing your body to deal with stress. You won’t have to give up a lot of time in order to achieve relaxation by exercising. A half an hour is more than enough to successfully combat stress and anxiety.
7| Progressive Muscle Reaction
Progressive muscle reacting is a surefire way to achieve relaxation, although it may require more dedication and discipline than the previous ones. To achieve relaxation through this technique, you’ll first need to close your eyes and focus on your breathing until you feel negative thoughts leaving your mind. Once your mind becomes a blank canvas, you’ll be able to pay a mental visit to your muscles.
Concentrating on your body will help you inspect your every single muscle from head to toe. This way, you’ll begin noticing the muscles, which are tense, and you’ll be able to relax each part of your body individually. The best way to do this is by tightening the group of muscles you’re focusing on as you breathe in, and relaxing them as you breathe out. When starting out, it’s helpful to get a progressive muscle relaxation audio tape so that you can know on which muscle groups to focus on and in what order.
8| Breathe Deeply
Learning how to breathe properly is one of the key ways to achieve a state of relaxation. In order to breathe deeply, you will need to sit up straight. Close your eyes, and place one hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
As you’re exhaling, let yourself go and imagine your whole body suddenly becoming loose in order to completely relax. Exhaling should last twice as long as inhaling. Taking a 5-minute break a few times throughout the day to focus on breathing will help you lead a stress-free life. Not to mention that breathing deeply will slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
Many people find strength and comfort in their religious or spiritual beliefs. If that’s not your thing, that’s completely okay. However, if you are religious, then you might want to spend a little more time praying or participating in any religious activity that will provide you with comfort and peace of mind.
Repeating the same routine every day can be pretty frustrating, as it can make us maneuver through the day on autopilot. Not putting enough thought into our actions or not even noticing our bodily sensations or feelings is something many people experience. This can be particularly scary if you already have a mental health disorder.
Students and people who are very committed to their job often think only about deadlines and decisions that have an effect only on their grades or job. If you’re so busy or unfocused on your actions that you often can’t remember if you locked your car or turned off your stove, then you need to start being more mindful of everyday activities.
In order to start being more mindful, you’ll need to begin paying more attention to every little detail about your day. For example, the next time you grab a cup of coffee, make sure to take a moment to focus on it before taking your first sip. This will awaken your senses and make you enjoy it much more. By being more mindful, you’ll start finding more joy in the simple things. This will help you live a more relaxed and happier life.
11| Laugh More
If a particular sitcom or book makes you smile, then you should turn to it more often. Laughing doesn’t only make you feel good in the moment – it has a lasting effect. By laughing, you’ll lower the presence of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body, while releasing feel-good chemicals called endorphins at the same time. Spending time with people that make you smile is a great way to achieve relaxation.
12| Biofeedback-Assisted Relaxation
This relaxation technique provides you with information about your body functions and teaches you how to control them by using electronic devices. This way, you’ll know exactly how to produce changes in the parts of the body where tension is present.
Although it’s not as popular as many of the other relaxation techniques mentioned above, some people successfully relieve themselves of stress and anxiety with the help of self-hypnosis. While practicing this relaxation technique, you will learn how to produce a relaxation response when prompted by either a nonverbal cue or a specific phrase.
Neglecting your mental health can be very dangerous. Unfortunately, many people think they don’t have enough time to practice relaxation or think that it won’t have a positive effect on their health. However, if you just try to take 5-15 minutes out of your day to practice relaxation, you’ll instantly start noticing the many health benefits of having a relaxed mind and body.
Some of the main health benefits that you can experience from relaxation include lower blood pressure, normalized heart rate, improved immunity, increased memory, enhanced mood, reduced risk of stroke, relief from pain, and improved heart health.
Whenever you experience stress or anxiety, your muscles become tense, and if you don’t release the pressure from them, both your mental and physical health can suffer. If your muscles are tense, then they’ll affect your emotions as well. Tension will make you more likely to get frustrated, anxious, or angry often.
Part of the reason why some people don’t practice relaxation is because they view relaxing in a different way. Certain people think that relaxing means simply lying on the couch and watching TV after coming home from work. However, it’s much more than that.
Achieving true relaxation will help you feel in-tune and clear-headed. It will help you live a healthier and happier life.
Relaxation techniques that can change your life for the better include meditating, breathing deeply, autogenic training, guided imagery, and progressive muscle reaction, along with being grateful, laughing more, becoming mindful, and listening to soothing music.