1. Equal Breathing. Inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four – all through the nose. Once you’re practiced at four, aim for six to eight counts per breath. This technique helps provide balance by calming the nervous system and increasing focus.
2. Abdominal Breathing Technique. With one hand on the chest and the other on the lower abdomen (below your navel), take a deep breath in through the nose. You should feel both hands move. Take six to ten deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. Keep at it for six to eight weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.
To clear tension from head to toe, close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for a few seconds each. Breathe in through the nose, hold for a count of five while the muscles tense, then breathe out through the mouth on release. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the calves, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes – all while maintaining deep, slow breaths.
Guided visualization helps puts you in the place you want to be, rather than letting your mind go to the internal dialogue that is stressful. With a script or recording as your guide, breathe deeply while focusing on pleasant, positive images. The more you can engage your senses (sight, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting), the more real you can make the image seem, the more effective this technique will be. Click here to try one example. Many more recordings can be found on-line.
- Nurture yourself. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress. Call or write friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
- Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy. Some suggestions: gaze at the stars, play the piano, ride your bike, pick blueberries, blow bubbles, write a poem, weed the garden, sit on the deck and watch the birds, paint a picture, lay in the grass and find animals in the clouds, walk in the woods, read a book, . .
- Laugh. Laughter makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you’re alone.