Relax already!

If yoga doesn't appeal to you, relax! From deep breathing to meditation, there are a number of other techniques that can help you to beat stress. Here are some examples:

  • Clearing your mind: Ridding all the thoughts from your mind isn't as easy as it sounds, but it's a great way to take a mental break from stress. Set aside 10 distraction-free minutes and find a comfortable seat in a quiet room. Close your eyes and try to visualize a calming scene or focus on a calming phrase. If your mind starts to wander, bring your thoughts back to that scene or phrase.
  • Deep breathing: Deep breathing can relieve tension and help you to relax, and – what's best – it can be done anywhere and at any time. Start with a hand on your belly, which will allow you to feel each breath. Inhale slowly through your nose, pushing the air towards your stomach to expand all the way to your belly, and then slowly exhale from your mouth, allowing all the air to exit and your stomach muscles to relax. Repeat four or five times.
  • Meditation: Deeper meditation requires a combination of clearing your mind and deep breathing. Set aside 15 minutes once or twice a day, around the same time of day if possible. In a quiet room, do a round of deep breathing, and then focus on a word or phrase that makes you feel calm. Repeat that word or phrase over and over in your head, focusing on its sound. If you have trouble concentrating, do another round of deep breathing and try to focus on the word again. Meditation can be extremely helpful, but it takes practice, so if it doesn't feel right the first time, keep trying.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: In order to appreciate the feeling of relaxing your muscles, you need to feel the contrast to when they are tensed. Focusing on one muscle group at a time, gently tense each muscle group for a count of five, and then slowly release until it goes totally limp, focusing on how your muscles feel once relaxed. Work your way through all your body parts, from your face to your feet. Be careful when tensing though – doing it too hard could trigger a muscle spasm, so gradually increase tension to determine how much works for you.
  • Visualization: Give yourself a mental vacation! As in the "clearing your mind" exercise, relax in a quiet room and then picture a relaxing scene – only here, you put yourself in it. Imagine yourself in the scene and allow yourself to feel each sensation, sound, and smell associated with that scene.

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