Six Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress

  • 13 October, 2020
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  • By Aleksandra Cichuta

Based on a study done at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson.

We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one’s grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense. This so-called “stress response”.

Based on a study from the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, following those six relaxation techniques below can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress:

Breath Focus

In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing).

INNER FIRE Community practices how to do this during the breath work sessions with the Breathing Space.

Body Scan

This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there.

Guided Imagery

For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.

Mindfulness Meditation

This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future.

Yoga, Tai Chi

These two ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements.

With variety of styles and levels of yoga anyone can practice. Apps and websites like Movement for Modern Life offer classes covering it all and accessible online. Anyone can start right away.

Repetitive Prayer

For this technique, you silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus. This method may be especially appealing if religion or spirituality is meaningful to you.

Rather than choosing just one technique, experts recommend sampling several to see which one works best for you. Try to practice for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help.

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