Being able to relax effectively is an important skill because it triggers the body's natural relaxation response - the opposite of the stress response. Relaxation is not difficult, but it can take some practice to master. Trying a range of techniques is a great way of finding what works best for you.
Technique 1 - Deep breathing
Focused deep breathing can be a very helpful technique in combatting stress and it forms the foundation of other relaxation practices. The key to deep breathing is to concentrate on breathing from the abdomen, filling up the lungs with air and puffing up the abdomen as we inhale. This process delivers more oxygen to the body and immediately helps reduce anxiety and tension.
How to deep breath
- Sit in a comfortable position, with a straight back. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Inhale through your nose. You should feel the hand on your abdomen rise, but the hand on the chest should hardly move.
- Exhale through your mouth. Concentrate on pushing out the stale air while contracting your abdomen muscles. The hand on the abdomen should fall as you exhale, while the hand on your chest should again hardly move.
- Continue to inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. Your abdomen should rise and fall as you do this. Concentrate to ensure it rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
Tip: If you find it hard to breathe from your abdomen while seated, then try lying down until you have mastered the technique.
In our next blog we will look at technique 2 - progressive muscle relaxation.