These days, everyone seems to be stressed. What’s more, stress has been continually linked to severe mental and physical illnesses and other plights. Heart disease, migraines, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer have all been linked to chronic stress.
Reducing stress, however, isn’t so easy. We cannot control everything. Things will happen that are stressful, and this is simply a part of life.
The only thing we can do is control our emotions and our reactions to life’s stressors. Therefore, it behooves us to learn how to relax on command — and to do it well.
If you would like your relaxation game to go deeper and if you would like to be able to relax more readily — basically, whenever you want — these tips are for you.
Make Relaxation Even Better with These 5 Tips
1. Keep all your devices out of the room.
There’s really no way to relax completely when you’re waiting to hear if your phone will ring or buzz, and the only way to get rid of this aural temptation is to simply not have any devices nearby.
2. Learn to visualize.
Visualization is a highly underrated form of relaxation. The main benefit of visualization is the fact that it allows you to focus on something instead of the dreaded “clear your mind” strategy, which doesn’t work for many people.
You can start visualizing by trying to picture a scene or setting that makes you feel relaxed — perhaps the beach, your childhood bedroom, or a beautiful forest. Try to think of everything possible that would be in this space. Pretend you are there, and try to describe it to yourself. This diversion of focus can be immensely helpful at getting to a relaxed state.
3. Be consistent.
Like anything from playing basketball to learning the violin, relaxation is a skill that takes practice. For this reason, you’ll get better at it when you start to do it every day. The key to this is setting aside a particular time for relaxation. Don’t assume you’ll just get to it when you can because that won’t ever happen. Instead, put it into your daily agenda as you would a meeting or a doctor’s appointment.
4. Try a body scan.
A body scan is a physical and mental relaxation practice. To do a body scan, lay down on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your side. Start by clenching your toes and feet tightly. Hold this for several seconds, then release. Move to your calves. Clench them tightly, hold, and release. Finally, do this all the way up your body until you reach your face.
5. Consider guided meditation.
If you’re still having trouble relaxing, try a guided meditation. Get a CD or MP3 player to play a recording of someone performing a guided relaxation session (many are available online). It’s better not to use your computer or smartphone, if possible (see #1). Guided meditations can be helpful because they give you second-to-second “tasks” and topics to focus on, and that way, your mind doesn’t wander as much.
Learning to master relaxation is a life skill that will always be useful, for as long as you live. In this way, it’s worth working on. Use the tips above to improve your relaxation game and give yourself this wonderful, lifelong gift.