7 Exercises to Reduce Stress
It’s important to know how to reduce stress when it happens. In today’s society where everyone’s busier than they’ve ever been, with higher demands for work performance and financial struggles, there’s a definite need to understand how to cope with stress and anxiety. Simple tools and techniques exist that can help ease the tension build up. Practicing these techniques daily can help release the tension in your body and allow you to relax during stressful moments, no matter where you are.
Making a habit out of practicing these techniques can help to reduce stress in your life and bring you more balance. Anxiety and stress contract and tense your body, and may lead to feelings of frustration, anger, depression, or fatigue. Being in a constant state of stress can cause higher blood pressure, stiff muscles, and a faster heart rate. Learn to cope, and bring your body back to its natural state of relaxation through these stress relief exercises.
Meditation to reduce stress
Ten minutes of meditation is all it takes to relax and feel calm. Find a place where you will not be disturbed. Sit in a chair with your spine straight and feet on the ground, or lie down with your spine straight. Close your eyes. Relax and let everything go. Simply focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out and continue to focus on your breath. If you are distracted by thoughts, you may wish to use a mantra to keep you focused. You can say “relax” on the inhale, then “and breathe” on the exhale. Or you can choose to repeat positive affirmations such as “I love myself”. A positive mantra works best to relax the body and mind. Continue to focus on your breathing for the next ten minutes. With any thoughts that come, allow them to flow right through you and pass by. In this moment, they do not mean anything. Just observe the thoughts as they float past, and wave them goodbye.
Move your body with exercise
Any form of exercise is a great stress release on the body. Next time you’re stressed, do some stretches, go for a walk, run around the block, or climb up as many stairs as you can. Grab a basketball and shoot some hoops, or kick a soccer ball at the local playing field. Aerobic activities are best. However, any exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Let’s dance! If you need to shift some energy, “put on your red shoes and dance the blues” as David Bowie wrote in his classic song. He was right! Yes, turn up the music. Create a playlist that enlivens you and gets you moving. Music is an unbelievably powerful form of therapy. Close your eyes and dance. Let the rhythm flow through your body and dance all the stress and tension away. Release the energy that’s blocked within you and your body will feel rejuvenated and relaxed again.
Listen to calming music
If you are all hyped up and need to calm down, find some relief in tranquil sounds of the sea, forest, or other meditation music. Alternatively, find a place near you where you can be surrounded by nature and listen to the wind, hear the birds chirp, and reconnect with your soul. Listening to music that relaxes you has been proven to lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
Relax your muscles
A progressive muscle relaxation exercise focuses on different muscle groups of the body. By tensing your muscles, holding them tense for 10 seconds, then relaxing them, you release tension that’s built up within the muscles. Find a place where you can get comfortable. If you have shoes on, you may want to take them off or undo any tight clothing. Start with your right foot, then left foot, and work yourself all the way up your body – calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, arms, hands, neck and shoulders, then finally your head. Do the following steps for each:
- Relax and breathe. Focus on your breathing and let everything go
- Move your attention to a muscle group, e.g. start with the right foot
- Tense the muscles as tightly as you can, and hold for 10 seconds
- Relax the muscles and feel the tension seep away
- Stay with this for a breath or two
- Move to the next muscle group
- Continue this exercise for your whole body
Quick relaxation techniques
Sometimes you need some help fast and don’t have time to find a place where you can be alone. Here are two exercises that can help:
- 5 breaths to calm – Focus on your breathing. Stop thinking about or seeing anything else that is around you. Take five deliberate and long inhalations, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Concentrate on the inhale and the exhale. Do this for 5 breaths. Feel yourself returning in a more grounded way.
- 5 count backwards – Stand relaxed and find a spot to focus on. Keep your eyes open and focus on the spot. With your head level, count 5 breaths backward. As you concentrate on each breath, allow your eyes to slowly close. When you get to 1, close your eyes completely and focus on the relaxed feeling as you reach 0.
Any technique that helps you reduce stress will improve your health by reducing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure and your heart rate, helping you to breathe slowly and more naturally, sleep better and reduce the hormonal flight and fight response. If you are really suffering from long-term stress, click here to explore Gold Coast stress management programs.