Is your go-to stress relief technique zoning out in front of the television? Scientists suggest that this may not be the best way to deal with stress. To effectively deal with stress, you need to activate your body’s natural “relaxation response”, a term coined by the founder of the American Institute of Stress, Dr Herbert Benson, to describe the physical state of rest that alters the body’s physiological responses to stress.
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According to the American Institute of Stress, when the relaxation response is triggered, the following effects are experienced:
- The metabolism slows down
- Muscles relax
- The heart beat slows down
- Blood pressure goes down
- Nitric oxide levels increase
If you are stressed, instead of sitting on the sofa watching TV all day, what you need to do is to ‘engage’ with your body in ways that will leave you feeling deeply relaxed, calm and focused so that you can trigger the ’relaxation response’.
There are a number of ways to trigger the ’relaxation response’, and this fun infographic by happiness company Happify outlines seven very effective techniques. Of the techniques depicted, breathing is of course one that can be practised by everyone, and it is very effective in lowering stress levels – when done correctly.
According to the American Institute of Stress abdominal breathing for around half an hour a day will lower anxiety levels and reduce stress. This abdominal breathing increases the oxygen supply to the brain and activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to an experience of calmness. Deep breathing helps you feel ’connected’ to your body, and it takes your focus away from your worries.
In addition to the breathing exercises and poses described in the infographic, there are great tools that can help you feel calmer:
iRelax Personal Relaxation System
Produced by Devon Medical Products, this neurologist endorsed “biofeedback device” activates the body’s ’relaxation response’ in minutes. It’s a non-invasive device that converts your pulse rate and strength into information and graphics, along with guidance on how to match your breathing with your heart rate cycle.
desktop is a scientifically validated and certified tool that will help you “turn stress into resilience”. Its patented process uses a variety of exercises that are “simple to learn” to create “alignment of heart, mind and emotions”:“coherence”. There’s even a “Coherence Coach” tutorial to help users learn “coherence” techniques and an “Emotion Visualizer”, which matches your emotional state to a range of visuals.
Whichever techniques or tools you select will be of no use to you unless you commit to using them. The American Institute of Stress recommends scheduling a set time every day to practice these stress-busting techniques. For example first thing in the morning (i.e. before ‘life’ gets in the way).
Can you recommend any stress-relieving techniques? Do you use any of the techniques described in the infographic? Your thoughts and comments below please...