Stress management relaxation techniques
Have you ever felt stressed, unable to relax and regain your focus? Stress management relaxation techniques can involve both mind and body relaxation, which both have their advantages, depending on the effects of stress for you.
A breathing technique known as the centering breath, is an effective way to relax and quickly reduce your stress and regain focus.
This stress management relaxation technique helps you to physically relax, and feel in control. It works by reducing the effects of the 'fight or flight' response, and increasing your confidence to deal with stress and focus on the job at hand.
Importantly, this stress management relaxation technique is easy to learn and can be used at almost anytime, whether in the middle of giving a public talk, sitting in an interview or exam, or any other likely stressful situation, which is affecting you.
To learn this stress management relaxation technique, you first need to learn how to breathe for stress relief, through a process known as diaghrammatic breathing.
Breathing for stress relief
I use the breathing techniques alot with people who want to manage their stress, because
1. it helps to reduce the physiological aspects of stress, and
2. they are easier to learn and apply in practice.
If you are finding yourself stressed, your breathing pattern becomes disrupted in a couple of ways. You may hold your breath, or you could breath in a more shallow and rapid way from the chest.
Deep breathing techniques combat this physiological stress response by turning on your relaxation response. Deep breathing techniques can help you to maintain a state of well-being and optimal performance.
So how do you know if you are deep breathing
If you put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach, you know you are doing diaghrammatic (or deep) breathing when the hand on your stomach moves, while the hand on your chest remains relatively still.
What happens in deep breathing from the diaghram (the thin muscle that separates the stomach from the chest cavity) moves up and down with every breath. This provides more efficient use of oxygen.
The stress management relaxation technique that I will show you include the deep breathing techniques shown above.
The Centering technique
I have found the centering technique is a very good stress management relaxation technique that my clients find very good to quickly reduce their stress and regain their focus.
When you experience stress, you may get muscle tension, increased heart rate, racing thoughts and have difficulty concentrating on one thing.
Of the stress management relaxation techniques, the centering technique is one of the easiest and most effective to learn. It combats stress by reducing the breathing rate and muscle tension; and also increases body awareness, concentration and focus.
It does this two ways. Firstly by getting you to take a deep breath, and secondly having you focus on the physiological aspects of taking a deep breath.
The teaching points are:
1. You can do it sitting and standing but your feet have to be flat on the floor
2. Take a a deep breath through the mouth. When you first practice this, it is a very noisy breath, because like any physical skill it needs to be emphasised and exaggerated a little. Later you can do it with minimal noise.
3. When you inhale, feel the expansion of the adominable muscles, feel the lungs inflate, the rib cage expand. The whole thoraic cavity expand with air, feel the transition from the inhale to the exhale.
4. As you are breathing out, the lungs deflate, the rib cage deflates and you should feel heavier.
5. At the end of the breath there is about a 1 to 2 second window of opportuniuty where your mind is blank. That is a perfect opportunity to focus on what you are trying to focus on.
The breathing technique is a great way to relax and to regain your focus. This is because it gets you to focus on the physiogical aspects of the breath rather than the negative thought cycle that may accompany the stress process.
Importantly, this centering technique can be sequenced into routines that you are likely to encounter that may put you out of your comfort zone.
I suggest that you do between now and then, is to do that breath 10-15 times a day, not just at the end of the day, but roughly once an hour. A free template to record your practices sessions is also provided here
Like any physical skill, it takes practice everyday!
What you will find, is that in the next few weeks, you will automatically start to use the centering technique when your body becomes aware of your stress.
A deep breathing technique was shown to you that can be applied at anytime that you can feel the unwelcome effects of stress. This stress management relaxation technique combats stress both physically, by increasing the depth of breathing, but it can also break the negative thought cycle and help you to regain focus.
Importantly, this breathing technique can be sequenced into routines and performances, which help to remain focussed on the task at hand.
An important point to remember is that stress is often multi-faceted and that it is important to approach stress management in a similar way. Other physical relaxation methods that can be used are the progressive muscle relaxation technique. Other mental relaxation techniques that can be used are positive thinking, rational thought, and guided imagery
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