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Method #1 ~ Breathe Deeply
You’ve heard it many times before no doubt: “Take a deep breath”! Well, there’s definite truth to this old saying. Deep breathing can bring about relaxation almost instantly. Pausing for a moment, and taking even a single deep breath, can benefit the mind and body.
The trick is to do what is known as “diaphragm breathing” or belly breathing.
This means that you expand your lower abdomen when you breathe in, almost as if the air is collecting in the belly. Doing this expands your diaphragm, which in turn brings more air into the lungs, gives the brain extra oxygen, and releases endorphins into the bloodstream, thus calming the mind and body.
It’s such a simple and easy thing to do!
Next time you’re in a stressful situation, take a big, deep belly breath before responding. Even a single breath can calm you enough to think clearly and not overreact.
Taking a 10-minute break to focus entirely on breathing can also bring big benefits, and can keep you in a calm state of mind for hours. The trick is to breathe slowly. For example, breathe in for five seconds, pause for one second, then slowly breathe out.
Method #2 ~ Come to Your Senses!
“Come to Your Senses” is the title of a popular book by the author, Stanley Block. To summarize, the method discussed in the book involves consciously focusing on your five senses, to bring about a state of calm.
You can practice this at any time. In fact, the more you do it, the better.
The technique gets you “out of your own head,” as it’s almost impossible to be stressed about a situation or thought when you’re actively concentrating on your surroundings.
For example, try thinking of something that happened recently that annoyed you, or made you feel bad. While keeping this in mind, listen carefully to any noises you can hear right now. Every tiny bump or “whir” that you wouldn’t normally notice. If you’re in your home as you read this, perhaps you can hear the fridge buzzing, the clock ticking, the traffic zooming past, and other noises.
When you do this, you’ll notice that the thought that annoyed you before no longer has any effect. If you want to continue, try focusing on what you can feel, down to the most minute detail. Or what you can see or smell.
It’s not always required to use this on old thoughts. You can utilize it in the present moment at any time to distract yourself and relieve stress.
Method #3 ~ Relaxation Response
The relaxation response is a very effective method to de-stress and keep calm. It’s a little bit like the “Come to Your Senses” technique mentioned above, except that it concentrates more on physical relaxation.
The relaxation response is almost a type of meditation, but it’s a lot simpler.
To perform the relaxation response, you’ll want to be in a comfortable position and somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. The mind needs to be focused during the exercise. In order to do this, concentrate on your breathing, or repeat a sound or word over and over.
To begin this method, close your eyes. Now mentally relax your muscles, starting at the toes. Deeply feel your toes relaxing, then your feet, your legs, the pelvic region, the abdomen and chest, and the upper and lower back. Then relax your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, the neck, your face, your scalp, and especially the jaw (a lot of tension is held here).
If you find it hard to relax, it can help to contract the muscle, then release. Alternatively, you can use your imagination to feel as if the muscle is under warm, heavy sand, or saturated in golden light.
It’s best to remain like this for around 20 minutes, breathing easily. Afterward, sit quietly for a few minutes before resuming the rest of your day. It’s most beneficial to practice the relaxation response once or twice a day.
The above three methods will be extremely helpful if you want to avoid emotional and mental stress and have that much-admired ability to stay calm in any crisis. Now, “breathe” it all in!