5 Stress-Busting Quick Relaxation Techniques for Busy People

Stress can strike anytime, anywhere. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night, challenges at work or home can set off your body’s stress response system which can lead to fat storage and weight gain.

What’s really concerning is that the stress response tends to result in the storage of what is called “toxic fat” or “visceral fat”. This dangerous fat is deposited around our stomach area and around vital organs such as heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys.

Relaxation techniques can help you turn off the stress response. However, to enjoy the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of relaxation techniques, you must practice them regularly. That’s a problem for many people. Most simply don’t have the time to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day in quiet meditation.

That’s where quick relaxation techniques come in. These 5 easy-to-do exercises take just five to ten minutes each to do, but are highly effective at eliminating stress.

For best results, before beginning each technique:

  • Find a quiet place
  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Close your eyes. (If you wear contact lenses, remove them first if it hurts to close your eyes over them.

1. Slow, Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress.

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress.

Easy to do and highly effective, deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress. When you take slow, deep breaths, it tells your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends that message to the rest of your body.

First, close your eyes and put one hand on your abdomen. Now breathe out slowly and completely. Notice how your abdomen sinks in as you breathe out. Now breathe in slowly and deeply. Be aware of your abdomen expanding as you breathe in. Repeat for as long as you have time.

2. Releasing Muscle Tension

This technique is ideal when you are feeling physically tense. It’s a quick version of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), one of the most popular relaxation techniques among health professionals.

To begin, close your eyes and focus your attention on the muscles of your body. Start with the muscles in your feet and work your way up to your scalp. As you focus on each area, check for tension and let it go. When you’ve finished, focus on your feet again. Take a deep, slow breath. Tense the muscles in your feet and hold for five seconds. Then release the tension, exhaling as you do so.

Now repeat the process with the rest of the muscles in your body:

  • Ankles
  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Stomach
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Scalp
  • Forehead
  • Eyes
  • Jaw
  • Upper arms
  • Lower arms
  • Hands

3. Heavy And Warm Exercises

This technique is a shortened version of a method called autogenic training. It’s based on studies that show you can make parts of your body feel warmer or cooler, and even slow your heartbeat, simply by thinking about it.

First, close your eyes. Then slowly say each of the following phrases to yourself three times:

  • My arms are heavy and warm.
  • My legs are heavy and warm.
  • My solar plexus is warm. (The solar plexus is the area immediately below the ribcage.)
  • My forehead is cool.
  • My heartbeat is calm and regular.
  • It breathes me. (The idea here is that your breathing is completely effortless as if it were being done for you.)

This is a passive relaxation exercise. That means that as you think these phrases, you should not try to achieve relaxation. You should just let it happen. All you have to do is quietly think about the words and observe how your body feels.

As you think the phrases, you may want to imagine a visual image that will help you to more fully experience the relaxing benefits of this technique. For example, when you think, “My arms are heavy and warm,” imagine that your arms are being pulled down by weights or soaking in a warm tub. Choose an image that is comforting for you. Then just let it flow through your mind as you do the exercise.

4. Take a Mini Vacation in Your Mind

This technique taps the power of your imagination to reduce stress and gently lull you into a calm, relaxed state. Choose an activity or place that you find deeply relaxing. Then visualize yourself in the midst of it.

You might, for example, imagine that you are:

  • Lying in the tall grass of a meadow with a warm sun shining down on you
  • Standing by the ocean with the waves lapping gently at your ankles
  • Visiting your favorite vacation spot
  • Walking in the woods
  • Curled up in your favorite chair with a good book
  • Sitting on a porch or deck in the morning, watching the sunrise

Begin by closing your eyes and taking several deep, slow breaths. Call up your image as fully as possible in your mind. What colours do you see? What sounds do you hear? What do you touch? Are there any pleasant smells or tastes? Breathe slowly and deeply as you bring this all back. Relax.

5. Stretching

If your muscles have tensed up, stretching this is an excellent way to relax them

If your muscles have tensed up, stretching this is an excellent way to relax them

If your muscles have tensed up, this is an excellent way to relax them. As you gradually stretch your body out, try some deep, slow breathing. It will be easiest to do these stretches standing, but you can also do them sitting in a chair if it’s not convenient to stand up.

  • Keeping your back straight, look down at the floor to stretch your neck. Lean your head to either side to stretch your neck sideways.
  • Turn your head to look right and then left, as far as you can.
  • Raise your shoulders to your ears and then let them fall.
  • Stretch your arms up as high as you can, as if you are trying to touch the sky. Then bring them down to your sides.
  • Bend slowly at the waist and let your arms hang in front of you.
  • Stand with your feet spread apart. Raise one arm, and then bend over sideways until your arm is parallel to the floor (or go as far as you can). Raise the opposite arm and repeat.
  • If you can sit down on the floor, spread your legs wide apart and lean straight forward, then lean forward over each leg.
  • If you can lie down on the floor on your back, bend your knees and bring them to your chest one at a time.
  • If you can lie down on the floor on your stomach with your arms by your sides, place your head to one side and then to the other. Let yourself feel the floor fully supporting you and your body sinking deeply into the floor, feeling heavier…heavier…heavier.

Try each of these techniques. See which work best for you. Then incorporate them into your daily routine. With regular practice, you’ll find yourself becoming calmer, more relaxed, and better able to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Not to mention the positive effect it will have on your weight loss journey.

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