Let's kick things off with something dear to our hearts — quite literally: deep breathing. It's something we really take for granted, isn't it? I mean, we do it all the time without even thinking about it. But, have you ever really honed in on it? Directed your full attention to your breath and let everything else fall to the background? Well, that's what this first technique is all about.
Deep breathing is all about drawing in more oxygen into your body, slowing down your heart rate, and promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation. Breathe in through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then release through your mouth. Simple, right?!
This is a technique that you can literally do anywhere, no fancy equipment required. And the best part is that it only takes a few minutes to help you get into a more relaxed state!
Moving on to our next method, we have visualization. Now, this isn't about conjuring up some fantasy where you're lounging on a sun-soaked beach with a craft cocktail in hand—although that does sound rather nice, doesn't it?
Instead, visualization is a bit like a mental rehearsal. You imagine a scene, an event, or a problem, and then visualize the outcome you'd like to see. For stress relief, I like to envision tension melting away, like ice cubes in a glass of water on a hot day. Or sometimes I imagine each worry as a balloon, released to the sky and slowly drifting away.
I'm here to assure you this could be a powerful technique not only for stress reduction but also for achieving various personal goals across different areas of your life!
If you're anything like me, you might tend to store your tension in your muscles. When I'm stressed, my shoulders hike up around my ears and my jaw could crack a walnut! So that brings us to our third relaxation hack: progressive muscle relaxation.
Starting at your toes and working your way up, tense each muscle group for five seconds and then release. This conscious focus on tension and relaxation can help you become more aware of physical sensations, which not only helps you recognize the physical manifestations of stress but also helps in slowing your heart and breathing rates too.
Do take care though, this one requires a bit more time and privacy, but hey, it never hurts to have an excuse to take a little bit longer in the loo, right?
Ever wondered why us Aussies are such big travellers? I think it's because we know the value of a good change of scenery. But what if we can’t exactly jump on a plane anytime we're feeling a bit ragged? This is where guided imagery comes in.
It's pretty simple. You pop in your headphones and find a guided imagery audio file. Close your eyes (not while driving please!) and let the narrator transport you to a more relaxing scene.
Within minutes, I promise you'll be feeling the waves lapping at your feet or the sun warming your skin. It's literally like a mini-vacay for your mind. I can vouch for it, really took me back to my trip to the Whitsundays. Oh, the serenity!
Now, last but not least, let's talk about grounding—a technique that helps keep you in the present moment when things seem to be spiralling out of control. Grounding can be particularly effective when we are dealing with lots of mental "noise" or when we feel stuck in endlessly looped thoughts.
Whether it's listening to your favourite song and really honing in on the lyrics, washing dishes and feeling the hot water on your hands or even just running a cool crystal along your palm—grounding techniques bring your focus back to the here and now effectively curbing the chaos!
Remember, while all these techniques are quite effective, they're not magic spells that will evaporate stress instantly. Rather, they're tools in your toolbox to be used as and when necessary. Experiment with them and see which ones work best for you!
Being the ever curious and adventurous Harper from Brisbane, I am off to explore more and discover new relaxation techniques to share with all you wonderful folks. Here’s to living a relaxed life, one deep breath at a time!