Oct 222013

stressed out woman

The challenges of contemporary everyday life can result in overwhelming stress – but you knew that already, right?

Although you may think you’re relaxed when watching TV or having a drink, the reality is that to really benefit from relaxation you need to focus your attention on a process that will leave your body and mind in a calm, relaxed state which neither alcohol nor watching TV will bring.

Using a combination of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization, this simple yet effective relaxation technique will produce a state of deep calm and when practiced regularly, will lead to a healthier state of mind. Relaxation experts recommend spending at least 10 minutes a day on relaxation techniques but the more time you can set aside for relaxation, the better!

1. Choose a quiet environment

Find somewhere in your home where you won’t be disturbed, your bedroom, garden or even your bathroom! Put your cell phone on silent and leave your home phone off the hook. I also find that removing anything work-related helps.

2. Get comfortable

Rather than the traditional Lotus position, lying down is best for this exercise. Lie on your back with your legs stretched out hip-width apart and your arms by your side. Loose, comfortable clothing is a must.

3. Relax your body

Starting on your left, tense the muscles in your toes and foot for about 5 seconds and then release. Notice the difference in tension. Do the same with your right foot and continue up your body tensing your legs, buttocks, stomach muscles, arms, hands and fingers. Finally close your eyes as tight as you can. Then, keeping your eyes closed, release. Take a moment to become aware of the total relaxation of your muscles.

4. Breathe Deeply

Move your focus to your breathing. Take a deep inhalation through your nose. Feel your breath flow through your throat into your lungs. Without holding your breath, exhale slowly through your mouth. Continued deep breathing will lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate and therefore counter the effects of stress. When you feel ready, gradually slow down your rate of breathing.

Woman lying down

5. Visualize

Where do you feel calm? On a beach? In a park? It doesn’t have to be somewhere that you’ve been, just an environment in which you can feel totally relaxed. Imagine you’re there. Look around. What can you see? Perhaps you can see trees. Can you hear the wind moving their leaves? What else can you hear? Now shift your focus to your other senses. Are there any smells? Can you feel the sun on your face? Picture yourself in this place feeling calm and relaxed and know that it is here any time you need to relax. 
When you are ready, return your focus to your breathing, open your eyes and enjoy your day!

This is a Guest Post from Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the creator and narrator of the guided meditations available at GuidedMind.com. To share his passion for guided meditation as a self-improvement tool, Steven has written 4 books and 10 guides so you too can improve your life. Visit his site at GuidedMind.com, the world’s premier resource for high-quality guided meditation audio, and get started with his free MP3 ‘Calm Mind‘ today.