Best Ways to Relax Successfully

Is a stress-free and meaningful life possible today?

We are daily bombarded by requests, actions, interrupts. The media pressure us with what we should possess or buy, how we should look, what to eat ... We are pressed by our surroundings, neighbors, friends to ‘comply’ with standard of living they value. Our bosses tell us when and what to do no matter the hour of a day or day of the week. We are (always) connected – if not, right now we are looking for wifi!

Is this the life we want?

Some adhere to it others aim to different lifestyle. Nevertheless, for many of us the relaxation represents zoning out in front of a TV at the end of a stressful day. Does/could this reduce the accumulated stress?

No.

Known from ancient times to effectively combat stress is that we need to activate the whole body's natural relaxation response.

How we do it?

There are numerous marketing campaigns telling us to try three, seven, eight … ways of relaxing techniques that are readily (commercially) available?

Do those techniques work? Likely not!

What then?

Stress is necessary ‘part’ of life. One needs it for creativity, learning and, mostly in ancient times, to survive. Why, then, such a fuss about it?

Tai ChiWe are all probably aware that stress is harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium of our body chemicals through nervous system. Our body and our nervous system are flooded with chemicals which prepare us for ‘fight or flight’. While stress response in emergency situations when quick action is necessary could be lifesaving, it wears our body down when constantly (daily) activated. Sadly, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly ‘common occurrence’ in our lives.

We should aim to control the impact of stress or to reduce it. And here the relaxation techniques come in. They are kind of brakes on our over heightened state of readiness and bring our body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

Now, let’s move from ‘what’ to ‘how’.

The ancient knowledge can provide the know-how about relaxation. It is possible for everyone to cultivate the positive states of mind that lead to calmness and inner peace finding relaxation. Our ancestors had stressful life, too. They had predators and enemies all around; diseases were hard to cure; life expectancy was lower. But, still they had the time, a free time to think and to relax!

YogaIf you find (try to do it) some ‘spare’ time for yourself in today’s time consuming society then you could pick up some well-known approaches like Yoga or Tai Chi (taiji) or meditation. Meditation is a practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. In sports it is more and more used prior to competitions. Through meditation one turns the attention away from distracting thoughts and focuses on the present moment to gain deep insight into how to be happy and deal with life’s challenges successfully. Yoga involves a series of both, moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. Practiced regularly, it can strengthen the relaxation response in our daily life. Yoga is known as a still meditation technique as opposed to Tai Chi, which is a moving one. Though Tai Chi (see more: Tai chi in the leadership world -1) has its roots in martial arts, today it is mostly practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing the stress. Tai Chi could be performed as a self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements in predefined scenarios named forms. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation, and as our ancestors said: they make the conscious circulation of vital energy named Qi (see more: Qi–energy–leadership) throughout the body.

What if there is no such luxury of time?

Try breathing techniques. They work for fast and quick relaxation. However, there is a hint: you have to learn it first and this takes time too. The way you breathe affects your whole body. Full, deep breathing or abdominal breathing is a good way to reduce tension, feel relaxed and reduce stress.

How do we do it properly?

One has to develop a full use of lungs and to get in touch with the rhythm of breathing. We can practice it in any position.

BreathStart slowly with no pressure. Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out. Practice breathing by filling your lower lungs so that your left hand goes up when you inhale and your right hand remains still. Always inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. After the repetition of 8 to 10 times it is time for the next step – inhale first into lower lungs as before then continue inhaling into the upper chest. As you do so, your right hand will rise and your left hand will fall a little as your abdomen falls. Exhale slowly through the mouth, feel the tension leaving your body as you become more and more relaxed. Practice breathing in and out in this manner for 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat it in the morning, during the day when you have time and in the evening.

When mastered, only three to five breaths may be needed to relax in stress situation.

Easy?

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