How to Relax and Reduce Stress for Better Head-to-Toe Health


When it comes to improving your overall mental and physical health, one of the most important things you can do is to just relax.

Photo by Poike/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Poike/iStock / Getty Images


Just look at some of the issues where stress is a known factor: high blood pressure, heartburn, gastrointestinal issues, joint pain, muscle fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and lowered immune response. If you don’t find ways to relax and reduce the stress in your life, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your mind and body need a break. Here are some tips for achieving that oh-so-necessary relaxation state.


Learn how to spot the stress response


Before you learn specific methods of controlling and reducing stress, you need to know what stress feels like. Stress may begin in the brain, but it manifests itself in the body. If you learn how to feel stress overtake your body, physically, you’ll be better-equipped to manage it in the moment.


“As you learn relaxation techniques, you'll become more aware of muscle tension and other physical sensations of stress. Once you know what the stress response feels like, you can make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique the moment you start to feel stress symptoms. This can prevent stress from spiraling out of control,” says the Mayo Clinic.


Take some time for mindfulness


The best way to deal with stress is to remove the stressor from your life. Of course, common stressors are work, family, or friend-related, so just removing the stress from your life is impossible. Instead, you must learn how to control your stress through mindfulness practices.


Whether you’re at work, at home, or stuck in a traffic jam, you can take a few minutes to practice a relaxation exercise. These include, but are not limited to meditation, yoga, focused slow breathing, and prayer. All of these activities will reduce heart rate, improve blood flow to the brain, and relax muscle groups.


Learn how to relax when you only have a minute


So you’re busy? You can still take time to relax, even if that time is just one or two minutes. Anything helps. Harvard Health suggests a wonderful one-minute relaxation strategy:


“Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself "I am" as you breathe in and "at peace" as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of your chair.”


You can simply close your eyes and count if you only have a few minutes to spare. Anything that focuses your mind on a relaxing, simple task and away from the complicated stressors of your life is recommended.


Seek help if your stress becomes too much


Certain life stressors, like addiction, require more help that simple breathing techniques. If the source of your stress is a serious alcohol dependency, drug addiction, or severe medical problem, you should seek professional help. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in dealing with your stress. Sometimes we all get in over our head and need someone to help show us the way out.


Photo Credit:

Author: Steve Johnso