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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed

5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed

Saying you’ll avoid stress is like saying you’ll avoid sweets for the rest of your life; unfortunately, it probably won’t happen. While that sounds like a losing battle for both the chocoholics and the super stressed out there, it’s not all bad news. Even though stress is something we all get hit with on occasion, we’re lucky enough to have tools at our disposal to help combat that gripping feeling of helplessness, and one of the most powerful is relaxation meditation.

Meditation assists a great deal in battling the daily grind, and while I highly suggest making it a regular practice, not all of us are at that point in our lives. However, there are other smaller techniques we can utilize to battle the overwhelming feeling we get when the stress is getting the best of us.

Keep in mind that all of the following can be done on the spot in an instant to help put you in a more relaxed state. It doesn’t hurt to try them out—it could be a game changer in your day. These relaxation meditation techniques will help you achieve balance no matter where you may find yourself when stress hits hard.

1. The 16-Second Rule

Take 16 seconds, whenever you need it, to reset yourself through square breathing. Whether you need a moment to calm down, to tone down the anger, or get into the present moment, following this simple process causes a small “pattern interruption.” 

Think of this as a reset button to ease stress, or saying no when you usually say yes. It is anything that causes you to snap out of the pattern you’re in and refocus.

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Simply breath in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, release for a count of four, and you guessed it, pause for a count of four. Four minor steps at four seconds each, and you’ve got a 16 second reset. Use it whenever you need a moment or feel overwhelmed[1].

Square breathing for relaxation meditation

    2. The Finger Trick

    This relaxation meditation trick can also be done absolutely anytime you want; on the subway, at your desk, or even waiting in line for lunch. If your mind is getting the best of you, simply place your thumb on the side of the bottom of your middle finger (closest to the base of the finger) and close your eyes. Then, breath in and out slowly a few times while putting light pressure on the middle finger with your thumb.

    You should feel a slight head-rush or ever-so-small light-headed feeling when following these simple steps. Once you open your eyes, you will feel a renewed sense of calm.

    3. Deep Breathing

    This is yet another simple relaxation meditation exercise that can be done on the spot, anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed with what life’s throwing at you.

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    Your eyes can be open or closed, but the idea is to inhale as deep as you possibly can. At first, you’ll probably feel your chest expanding and opening up as you inhale, but if you continue inhaling past that point, make it your mission to slowly expand your stomach with the last bit of that inhale.

    You might temporarily look like you just ate Chipotle’s largest burrito, but it’ll only last a second. If you can do this for five or ten breaths, you’ll stimulate the Vagus nerve, reducing the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system[2]. This can be a game-changer for your stress levels, so take some time each day to devote to deep breathing and focus on the rising and falling that it creates in your body. 

    4. Be Grateful

    You need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to find stress relief, and the best way to do that is to consistently note what you’re grateful for in your life. To do this, you can train yourself to actively think about the things that support it.

    Before or after a relaxation meditation, try incorporating a gratitude journal where you list three to five things each day that you’re grateful for. It can be small things such as the comfort of your favorite chair, or big things like your spouse or children. When you begin to identify three new things each day, your mind will learn to automatically look for these things without being told to do so. 

    Often, we don’t actively take note of the good things we have because we’re so busy comparing our lives and possessions to everyone else. If this is the case for you, step away from social media for a bit to get a more positive perspective on your own life.

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    5. Visualization

    Our brains are capable of a vast amount of creativity that allows us to create situations and have our bodies respond accordingly, without the situation actually occurring.

    Here’s a great example: imagine you have to give a public speech. Before you even get up there to deliver the speech, you already know what happens. Your palms get sweaty, your heart rate increases, you feel weak and nauseated.

    But you haven’t even given the speech yet. Your brain has successfully tricked your body into thinking you’re seconds away from getting in front of that crowd and spewing out your monologue.

    We can see how powerful it actually is. Now it’s time to use the brain’s power to your advantage.

    Close your eyes and put yourself in a situation that you find peaceful. It may be sitting on the porch of a lakeside cabin, lying on a sandy beach, or standing on top of a mountain while soaking in a beautiful valley view. 

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    Really put yourself there. Feel the breeze, and smell the air, whether it’s tinged with the salty ocean or crisp pine from the forest. Use each of your senses to immerse yourself in the visualization.

    Once you make it back to the actual present moment after this relaxation meditation technique, you’ll feel more relaxed and centered in body and mind.

    Final Thoughts

    The bad news is that stress is real and nearly impossible to shed from your life. To try would be fruitless, and ultimately, life is about navigating those moments as they arise.

    The good news is that there’s a multitude of relaxation meditation tools at your disposal to help you improve your mental health when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You just need to be aware of them and realize they’re not hard to implement.

    The next time you’re feeling like the stress has gotten the best of you, try to use some of the techniques above. Whether it’s one, two, or all five, you’ll feel more relaxed and calm as the day wears on. Knowing that you have the power to reset your day at any time should give you confidence that stress, while difficult, is only temporary.

    More to Help You Relax

    Featured photo credit: Isabell Winter via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Adam Bergen

    Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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    Published on May 3, 2021

    How To Get Over Anxiety: 5 Professional Tips

    How To Get Over Anxiety: 5 Professional Tips

    Anxiety is killing our mental energy. It is, after all, the leading mental health issue in our society today.  In 2017 alone, more than 284 million people experienced anxiety across the globe, making it the most prevalent mental health disorder globally.[1]

    If you are asking the question, “how do I get over my anxiety?”, then this article is for you. I’ve put together a list of my top strategies to help you get over your anxiety. These are the same strategies that have worked for many of my clients over the years, and I think they can work for you too!

    Anxiety is, in general terms, as uneasiness or nervousness about an undetermined outcome. Sometimes, this worry and uneasiness is quite excessive and goes from something that we can manage on our own to something for which we need professional help.  If your worry or apprehension includes panic attacks or compulsive behaviors, consider reaching out to a therapist or a doctor for more professional help.

    I like to think of anxiety as information—a sign that something is off in your life. It could be a global pandemic, a challenge at work, instability in relationships, or the sign of a larger mental health issue.  Whatever it is, it’s good to think this through and be asking the questions that will help you uncover the parts of your life that could use some adjusting.

    Again, consulting with a therapist or counselor, even just for a brief period of time, can help decipher some of these questions for you.  And if you want to give it a go on your own, well that takes us to the first of my five tips on how to get over anxiety.

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    Here are 5 tips on how to get over anxiety and live a more fulfilling life.

    1. The Mighty Journal

    You will be amazed by the power of journaling—the path of self-discovery it can lead you down. The best part of journaling is that there is no right or wrong here. It is a private place where you can work through the stuff in your head and figure some things out.

    There are lots of formats for journaling, and I have personally changed my own approach several times depending on what was going on and what I was looking for.  It could be that narrative of your day or bullets with highlights or thoughts of the day.

    To make the most out of your journaling I would encourage you to push yourself and go beyond a recount of the day’s events. What you really want here is to get into your thought process and understand the feelings behind the thoughts. Timelines can also be a great way to gain some understanding of relationships and the different events in your life. Again, it is a matter of what works for you.

    The pen truly is mightier than. . . the meds?!? My own little psych-mashup.

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    2. Schedule Your Self-Care Time

    What are the ways you treat yourself? Life is busy and when life demands increase, self-care is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside. But it is critical that you build in your “you time” because when stress levels increase, so will anxiety.

    If self-care is not something that you are accustomed to thinking about, I listed some ideas for you to consider.  Keep in mind that if you schedule it with someone else, it might help with accountability.

    Think about working smaller chunks of time into the workweek and then something a little more extensive on the weekend, like a hike, excursion, creative home project, or even the occasional weekend away.

    Self-care ideas:[2]

    • Take your lunchtime away from your desk, and get outside for a walk or join a colleague for some casual chitchat.
    • Schedule a massage or trip to the spa/salon.
    • Watch a favorite movie or TV show, either on your own or with your favorite person/people.
    • Work out, inside or out—anything that gets your heart rate up.
    • Go on an evening or afternoon walk.
    • Tap into your creative outlet, break out that knitting, woodwork, artwork, or instrument.
    • Dance, at home with your kids, partner, or on your own.  Play your favorite tunes and do your thing!

    You can also try these 40 Self Care Techniques To Rejuvenate And Restore Yourself.

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    3. Listen to Your Music

    Music speaks to our soul. It is a go-to for many of us when in need of a pick-me-up or just blowing off some steam. But sometimes, life gets busy, and we don’t incorporate it into our life the way we once did—finding ourselves in a music deficient rut, listening to the same boring stuff on the radio.

    Let this be a reminder to explore the new music out there. Streaming services have revolutionized our access to music and have made it easier than ever before. Explore it and find your jam.

    Additionally, music therapy is a growing form of therapy built on the research that it helps decrease pain, blood pressure, and—you guessed it—anxiety while also increasing mood, healing, and overall positivity.[3]

    Medical Doctors are using it more and more in operating rooms and incorporating it into their practices. If you subscribe to Spotify or Apple Music, you can just type in “relaxing music” and you will be sure to find something that will do the trick, bringing calm and focus into your life.  In my research for this article, I came across some great ones., and they are now a part of my daily rotation.

    4. The Five Senses Exercise

    When we experience heightened anxiety, I think of it as the physical energy rising from our feet to our head like a thermometer. Sometimes, this energy can even bring us to a place where we feel disconnected from our bodies. The 5 senses exercise will help you reconnect yourself to your body and bring your anxiety levels down to a more manageable level.

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    The 5 senses exercise is a mindfulness exercise where you connect your 5 senses to your present environment. This is a great way to ground yourself and bring your attention and your energy to the here and now.  What I love about this exercise is that it can be done anywhere and at any time. If you start to feel your anxiety creep up, this could be a good strategy to center yourself and possibly ward off a panic attack or prolonged anxiety.

    The process is simple:

    1. Start by taking a few deep breathes, inhaling as you count to 3, and then exhaling as you count to 3.
    2. Next, identify 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can touch and feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
    3. Take it in, give yourself a few minutes.
    4. Repeat if needed, and carry on.

    5. Mindset Matters

    This last one is a big one. A lot of times, anxiety waxes and wanes with how we think about something. Be mindful of your negative self-talk, keeping it in check and working to incorporate perspective. If you know that you are headed into something challenging, prepare yourself for it mentally and allow yourself to be ok with the challenge. After all, the challenge helps us grow and develop.

    Also, remember that life is full of choices—granted the options in front of us may be less than ideal, but remember that they are there.  Incorporating some of these above strategies could be one of the first choices you make to create change in your life and get a hold of the anxiety

    A quick easy way to get some perspective is to acknowledge the things that you are grateful for (this is also a mindfulness practice).  The gratitude journal is one way to do this where you write down three to five things that you are grateful for every day. Try it out for a week or so and see how you feel. Of course, the more time you practice this, the more you will feel the benefits.

    Summing It Up

    Anxiety is something that we all experience from time to time, working to identify the source of your anxiety will help you discover the best strategies for you. However, there are some definite best practices that you can incorporate into your life that are sure to minimize your anxiety and keep you living the active and fulfilling life you want.

    More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

    Featured photo credit: Fernando @cferdo via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Our World in Data: Mental Health
    [2] NCBI: Social Anxiety Disorder: Recognition, Assessment, and Treatment
    [3] Harvard Health Publishing: How music can help you heal

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