Progressive relaxation of your muscles reduces heart rate and blood pressure, as well as slowing respiration rates. Deep muscle relaxation can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. The body responds to anxiety-producing thoughts and events with muscle tension, which in turn increases anxiety. Muscle relaxation reduces tension and is incompatible with anxiety. The Benson Relaxation technique involves tensing individual muscle groups for several seconds and releasing the tension - allowing the muscles to gradually relax.
Proper breathing is essential for good mental and physical health. The next time you feel a surge of stress, try a few moments of deep breathing. Sit in a comfortable position and take deep, measured breaths, e.g. inhaling while counting up from 1 to 4; exhaling while counting down from 4 to 1. Deep breathing assists in relaxation by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body. There are many breathing techniques you can learn.
Sometimes we become tense and overwhelmed by thinking about all the things we need to get done or what we didn't get done. Sometimes we give ourselves negative messages without really realizing it (negative self-talk). In order to overcome stressful and negative thoughts, you can use the power of your imagination to refocus your mind on positive, healing images. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and visualize a scene or place that you associate with safety and relaxation. It doesn't matter what you visualize, as long as it's calming to you. As you relax your mind, your body also relaxes. Guided imagery can really help.