Your mind is always at work. It’s a part of you that thinks, reasons, judges, and feels everything for you. Your mind has the ability to think good and bad, positive and negative.
With the busy lifestyle we all lead, it is only natural to feel overwhelmed and to be stressed. A stressful mind can cause fatigue, irritation, anger, and can bring negativity. It can hinder your thought processes, making it difficult for you to take decisions.
Having a calm mind is as important as breathing fresh air. Your mind controls everything you feel about the people and your surroundings. Therefore, it is important to keep your mind healthy and calm. Because your mind and body are connected, many relaxation methods can help relax both the mind and body.
1. Practice Breathing Exercises
Focused breathing helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and it also stops negative, unwanted thoughts from distracting you. It also decreases the heart rate and lowers or stabilizes blood pressure.
To Begin Focused Breathing: Choose a comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath –breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth or nose.
For Regular Practice Of Focused Breathing: Once you’ve taken the initial steps for focused breathing, you can practice it regularly. With regular practice of this controlled breathing, combine deep breathing with an image that will help you relax. You can also focus on a word or phrase that can help you calm the mind.
There are other breathing exercises that you can add to your daily routine. These include the following:1
- Belly breathing
- 4-7-8 breathing
- Roll breathing
- Morning breathing
2. Include Body Baths In Your Routine
Soaking your body in warm water helps you relax your body and mind. This helps especially if you have anxiety issues. The following treatments are good for relaxation and soothing irritated nerves.2
- Neutral Bath – Fill your bathtub with water slightly cooler than your body temperature, say about 92–95°F. Soak your body in this water for 30–60 minutes. Neutral baths soothes the irritated nerves of the skin and will help you feel relaxed and calm.
- Full Body Wet-Sheet Pack – Dip a cloth in cold water and wrap it around your body. Then, cover your body with a blanket. Keeping this wet-sheet pack on your body for 30–45 minutes will help relax the body and the mind.
- Cold Water Bath – While you are in the shower, allow cold water to fall on the entire body for 2–3 minutes. This will relax your body by soothing the nerve endings of the skin.
- Hot And Cold Application – Hot and cold application can help your mind and body to relax. This can be done by pouring hot water or doing hot fomentation of the backbone for 5–10 minutes followed by pouring cold water or doing cold fomentation of the backbone for 15–20 seconds.
- Cold Spinal Bath – In the cold spinal bath, you should not immerse your entire body in the water. Fill your bathtub partially with cold water and lie down in such a way that the backbone and parts of your back are in contact with the water. Do this for 30–45 minutes and it can help you relax. In addition to relaxation, it relieves hypertension, fatigue, and excitement.
- Foot Bath – Alternate hot and cold foot massage is another effective method for relaxation. Pour hot water on both feet for three minutes followed by cold water for 30 seconds. This can also be done by immersing your feet in hot and cold water, instead of pouring, for the same duration mentioned.
- Warm Bath – Warm baths reduce stress and keep your mind relaxed. It is a good practice to take a warm water bath before bedtime.
3. Jazz Up Your Mood With Music
Music has a significant effect on your body and emotions. Listening to music of your choice can help beat stress and help you relax. Fast music will help you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can help you feel optimistic and can help focus on the positive things in life. Slow music can help you relax your muscles and quiet your mind.
There is a study that linked music, the degree of likeness for the music, and relaxation. In this study, the subjects were asked to rate their level of relaxation by either listening to one of five types of music or sitting in silence. There is no particular category of music that helped relax better but, the degree of liking the music played a role in how relaxed a subject felt. This concludes that listening to music of your choice can help you relax your mind.3
Another study shows how listening to music can improve sleep quality in adults.4
4. Relax With Yoga Postures
You can engage in restorative yoga to get your mind and body relaxed. Restorative yoga is the key element to manage chronic stress. Restorative yoga helps “restore” a sense of balance, peace, and well-being, both physically and emotionally. Restorative yoga generally uses props that will help to perform the poses for a longer duration.
To work its magic, restorative yoga uses eight conditions to help your body relax. These include the following:5
- Physical comfort
- Muscle release
- Warm skin
- A reclined or inverted posture
- Pressure on the bones around the eyes
- Permission to relax
- Holding the pose for as long as possible
Some of the yoga poses that will help with relaxation include Easy Pose (Sukhasana), Cat (Marjaryasana) and Cow (Bitilasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana), Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Kirani), and others.
5. Pen Down Your Thoughts
You might have had a secret diary as a child where all your thoughts and feelings were shared. Life may not have seemed as chaotic back then. It probably would have been relieving to get all your thoughts on paper.
Now that you’ve entered adulthood, there is no writing because there is no time. The solution here is to find the time to pen down your thoughts about your day or an event that made you feel good or bad. Writing down your thoughts and emotions will you help you understand them more clearly.
Writing can help you relax by managing anxiety, reducing stress, and coping with depression. Writing can also help you keep a track of the people or instances that have triggered negative feelings within you. It also gives space for some self-talk 6
6. Use Guided Imagery
Guided imagery helps you use your imagination to keep yourself calm and relaxed. Guided imagery can be done with audio recordings, an instructor, or a script that will help you through the process. Since the mind and the body are so closely related, you can achieve peace by just using your mind to imagine. In guided imagery, all of your senses are used, which means that you can see, smell, hear, taste, and feel things using your imagination.
Here’s how you can do guided imagery without an instructor.7
- Choose a comfortable place in your house where you can sit or lie down. Allow yourself to relax and close your eyes.
- Relax by taking a few deep breaths.
- Imagination a place where you are happy and at peace. This could be any place – a beach, your best friend’s room, a farm, etc.
- Try to imagine more than just the place; try focusing on the smell and how the air is. For instance, if it is a beach, try to picture the sound of the waves, the sun on your face, and so on.
- Try to focus on your breathing while you are relaxed. Take a few minutes to breathe slowly.
- Try to remember a word or a sound that will help you remember this feeling in the future. When you are ready, slowly bring yourself back to the present. Tell yourself that you will feel relaxed and calm.
- Slowly, open your eyes.
7. Pamper Yourself With A Massage
Massages are used for general relaxation and well-being. Sometimes, massages can also cure certain ailments like backaches and headaches. To calm your body and mind, try to find time to pamper yourself with a good body massage. Massages benefit you in the following ways:8
- Physically, they help you to relax.
- Massaging can improve your blood circulation, which maintains cells, and accelerates the process of removing toxins from the body.
- Massages provide relief from tight muscles and other aches in the body.
- They provide greater flexibility.
- They also increase your energy and spirit.
It is difficult to forget hard times and situations that probably take away the peace in you. But, you have a chance to change that because it happened in the past. Believe in yourself and train your mind to see the good in any situation.
|↑1||Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. University of Michigan.|
|↑2||Ramaiah, Dr. Savitri. Anxiety: Health Solutions. Sterling Publishers Pvt.Ltd, 2008|
|↑3||Stratton, Valerie N., and Annette H. Zalanowski. “The relationship between music, degree of liking, and self-reported relaxation.” Journal of Music Therapy 21, no. 4 (1984): 184-192.|
|↑4||De Niet, Gerrit, Bea Tiemens, Bert Lendemeijer, and Giel Hutschemaekers. “Music‐assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality: meta‐analysis.” Journal of advanced nursing 65, no. 7 (2009): 1356-1364.|
|↑5||Rentz, Kristen. YogaNap: Restorative Poses for Deep Relaxation. Da Capo Press, 2005.|
|↑6||Journaling for Mental Health. University of Rochester Medical Center.|
|↑7||Stress Management: Doing Guided Imagery to Relax. University of Michigan.|
|↑8||How Can Massage Help My Health and Wellbeing? University of Minnesota.|