Stressful situation can trigger off biochemical and hormonal changes in our body. The effect of these can be seen in an increased heart rate, adrenalin rushes and a partial or complete breakdown of the immunity and digestive systems. Long periods of stress can cause the â€˜burn outâ€™ that is so often talked about in the corporate world.
Below are some relaxation techniques you can use to manage and relieve stress. Make sure that you choose something that is compatible with your lifestyle so that you can continue to practice it even after the stressful period is over to be able to avoid future stress situations.
Yoga is one technique that is gaining prominence worldwide. This science of exercise that originated in India involves slow exercises that can help the central nervous system, the endocrine system and the digestive system as well. These are the key systems of the body that are affected in a stressful situation and thus yoga can be extremely effective in such cases. The stretching exercises along with massaging of the internal organs helps to attain a state equivalent to dynamic equilibrium in the body. This causes the body to be peaceful and allows the individual to focus on each body part as it is exercised. The distraction takes mind away from the regular chaotic problems and stress-causing situations. Continued practice of this art can ensure that you develop a natural response to stress and inhibit the body from getting into an alert mode every time a stressful situation occurs.
Meditation is one aspect of yoga that needs special mention in this discussion. Meditation is the process of focusing on something while trying to remove all thought from the mind. It is therefore, a process of active effort and passive participation. The effort is required to focus on one object and the passiveness is required to be able to view the things around you from a dispassionate point of view. If you try this, you will realize that it is not as easy as it may seem. Just when you feel that you have been able to focus on a specific thing (that could be a flame, or a dot or something that does not provoke thought in your mind) and removed all thought from your mind, a particular thing that you need to do or a thought about something that you are worried about pops up. Constant practice shall ensure that you are able to meditate for some time. Meditation has been proved to reduce the levels of biochemical compounds and hormones that cause stress.
The Chinese technique of Tai Chi can also help in relaxation. This technique is centered on breathing and being conscious of the present. The Chinese believe that an energy in the body called Qi moves through the body. This movement is not a physical movement through veins or arteries or the digestive system but a more unobtrusive movement. This energy is responsible for maintaining good health and can cause better healing. An issue in the movements of Qi can result in disease, stressful situations and tiredness. Tai Chi is the technique in which Qi is regulated to ensure that there is a continuous movement of the energy. It uses muscular movements and breathing exercises to remove any obstruction in the way of the body energy.
Breathing is a relatively simpler technique as compared to yoga or meditation that can be practiced by most people. The method just requires about fifteen minutes of your time each day. Involuntary and voluntary muscles in the body control breathing and is therefore the connection between the conscious and the unconscious. It involves being conscious of the breathing that you are doing. You need to sit quietly and be conscious of your breath that goes in and goes out. If you find your mind wandering all you need to do is to bring your mind back to breathing and concentrate on it.
You can either lie down or relax comfortable on a chair. Practice deep breathing for 2-3 minutes. Then, take a deep breath, hold it and tense your toes. Hold it as long as you are comfortable. Now slowly release your breath, at the same time relaxing your toes. The important thing is to maintain your awareness on the body part you are working on. Repeat the procedure with your calf muscles, thighs, back, stomach, chest, neck and finally the facial muscles. For those having trouble falling asleep, this is an excellent exercise to practice during bedtime.