Relaxing is one of the most important things you can do for your mental well-being. Taking a breather and practicing daily self-care helps reduce stress levels, increase mental clarity and focus, improve memory function (even in older adults), and even slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Plus, taking time for yourself is just plain healthy for your body. So, if you’re looking for ways to relax without having to go through all sorts of complicated rituals, here are some quick fixes!
Rub your ears
It might sound strange but rubbing your ears could help you cultivate calm. The claim is that rubbing your ears for 30 seconds will help relieve tension. Although there are no randomized controlled studies looking at this issue, there are reasons it could help.
The vagus nerve helps regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion–and when you’re stressed, you can experience symptoms like rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and anxiety. The idea is that stimulating the vagal nerve by rubbing you ears slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and counters the body’s stress response.
Put your hand on your belly and take deep belly breaths
Deep belly breathing is an easy, quick way to relax the body and mind and is especially useful if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Breathing deeply helps slow down your heart rate, improve circulation, and relax your mind. It also helps release muscle tension, so you feel calmer.
To do this exercise:
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
- Close your eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths through both nostrils while breathing in through the nose and then out through the mouth.
- Try not to hold in air; let it flow freely as you inhale so that when you exhale, there isn’t any air left inside of you.
- Continue as long as it takes until calmness comes over you – five minutes is ideal, but even a minute of controlled breathing can help you relax.
Hold a warm drink in your hands
Here’s a simple strategy that helps ease tension:
Hold a warm drink in both hands. Breathe in the steam. Breathe out tension. Notice the feel of the warmth against your hands and how the steam caresses your skin. Enjoy its aroma as you focus only on the sensory qualities of the beverage. This is a practice that cultivates mindfulness, one of the most powerful stress relievers. As your mind focuses on the warmth in your hands, it shifts away from worries that are stealing your sense of calm.
Visualization is powerful stress therapy too. Close your eyes and imagine being in a meadow by a stream, with a sunny blue sky above you and birds chirping. The air smells fresh and clean, and the grass feels cool against your skin. Your muscles feel relaxed as you sit cross-legged on the ground.
Here’s another visualization strategy. Recall how it feels when you go for a walk in nature–the warmth of the sun on your skin or how good it feels when you breathe in fresh air after being cooped up inside all day long.
Stretching can help reduce anxiety in a few ways by:
- Reducing muscle tension: When you’re stressed, your muscles can become tense, which can lead to physical discomfort and anxiety. Stretching helps relax and release muscle tension, which has a calming effect.
- Improving circulation: Stretching improves blood flow and circulation, which can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Calming the mind: Stretching is a meditative and mindful activity that can help calm the mind and provide a sense of relaxation.
- Releasing endorphins: Stretching may also release endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. The release of endorphins can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Take a few moments to stretch every 30 minutes or so and you’ll feel calmer and more relaxed and it counters the negative effects of sitting.
Do a quick body scan
A body scan is a relaxation technique that involves focusing your attention on each part of your body, starting at your toes, and working your way up to the top of your head. It can be a helpful way to release tension and promote relaxation, particularly if you are feeling anxious. Here’s how to do a quick body scan:
- You can do a body scan in as little as a minute to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation Find a comfortable position, lying down or seated. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Begin at your toes and focus on each part of your body, one at a time. As you focus on each part, take a deep breath in, and then release the breath as you relax that part of your body.
- Work your way up through your body, paying attention to each part as you go. You might notice areas of tension or discomfort, and that’s okay. Focus on relaxing those areas as you move through the body scan.
- When you reach the top of your head, take a few deep breaths, and slowly open your eyes.
It’s important to find a comfortable position and take your time as you go through the scan. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the sensations in your body.
Drink a glass of water
Dehydration can harm your energy level and mood–not to mention your ability to think clearly. When you don’t get enough water in your body, it can cause stress, as well as lead to other health issues like headaches or fatigue. Dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue, so drinking plenty of water will help keep you awake throughout the day instead of nodding off at work!
The truth is, relaxation isn’t always easy, especially when we’re used to thinking of it as something that takes time or effort (like a long massage at an expensive spa). But there are plenty of ways to relax quickly that don’t require much money or effort–so if you’re feeling stressed out, try one of these techniques.
Remember, the key is repetition. You can’t just do one or two of these exercises and expect them to work wonders. You need to practice them regularly so that they become part of your daily routine. And remember that you don’t have to do all these things simultaneously; pick one or two every day until they become automatic!
- Works Cited Fletcher, Jenna. “Ear Seeds for Anxiety: Do They Work and How to Use Them.”Medicalnewstoday.com, Medical News Today, 30 June 2022, medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ear-seeds-for-anxiety. Accessed 27 Dec. 2022.
- Montero-Marín, Jesús, et al. “Efectividad de Un Programa de Estiramientos Sobre Los Niveles de Ansiedad de Los Trabajadores de Una Plataforma Logística: Un Estudio Controlado Aleatorizado.” Atención Primaria, vol. 45, no. 7, Aug. 2013, pp. 376-383, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23764394/, 10.1016/j.aprim.2013.03.002. Accessed 27 Dec. 2022.