In addition to going through this program, you can try any number of stress-reducing strategies. We've listed some of our favorites here. Mix and match. Try them out. See which work for you. And remember that a quick web search on "relaxation techniques" or "methods of relaxation" will turn up others if you want to test drive more. The good news is you can't overdo relaxation. The bad news is that most of us find it difficult to make time to relax. It's important. Try to incorporate at least one 10-minute relaxation exercise into every day.
Here are some of the techniques and practices you can try:
- Breathe: It's that simple. Sit quietly, and take several deep breaths. Your incentive spirometer will come in handy here. If you regularly practice yoga, you can do yoga breathing, too. Meditate? Perfect. Meditation has been shown to offer a number of health benefits. Extend the time you sit to reap even more of them. Once you've done your breathing exercises, add another of the techniques below. This will help you remember how important it is to address your stress.
- Pose: Yoga is a great way to both work your body and calm your mind. You can practice yoga regardless of age or ability. Consider taking a class, following along with a DVD or, if you're experienced, creating your own practice and routine.
- Laugh: Laughter truly is good medicine. The act of laughing releases tension and brings about positive physical changes in your body, including improved blood flow, immune system response, better blood sugar control and more restful sleep.
- Imagine: Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for at least 10 minutes. Visualize a favorite vacation spot, a tropical island, your dream destination. Picture it in great detail -- the entire scene and its colors, sounds, scents and textures. Move around in your dream locale and notice every last thing about it before slowly opening your eyes and returning "home."
- Listen: Ever notice how listening to your favorite songs can put you in a good mood or how a few classical pieces can make you feel mellow? Music can have a profound effect on our moods and states of mind. Listen to whatever you enjoy -- and whatever you find soothing. Faster tempos likely will get you feeling more upbeat; slower tempos, calmer and more relaxed.
- Walk: Slow or fast, around the block or at the mall, walking is another great way to reduce stress. Most neighborhood parks have walking paths, so you don't have to worry about uneven or rocky terrain. Notice nature all around you as you meander. People- watch. Listen to music. (And wear your pedometer to log all those steps.)
- Smell: Aromatherapy is another way to calm your mind and the physical manifestations of stress. Find a scented candle or room freshener you like and keep it nearby. The scents of lavender and chamomile, in particular, are associated with calm.
- Repeat: Most repetitive actions can have a soothing effect: walking, crocheting, bouncing a basketball, swimming, drawing, painting, knitting.