You’re waiting nervously in the dentist’s chair, or white-knuckling a bout of aircraft turbulence, or getting ready to deliver that big presentation at work – or even just wondering how you’ll remain sane given all you need to do between now and Christmas! – and you can already feel the stress tightening its death grip on your whole body, thus increasing the levels of stress hormones that are now coursing through your bloodstream. Not good for your heart!
Instead of tensing up, practise three mini-relaxation techniques, courtesy of Harvard University Medical School’s newsletter Healthbeat, so that you’ll be ready to try them even when time is tight.
When you have only 1 minute:
- Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
When you have only 2 minutes:
- Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
When you have only 3 minutes:
- While sitting down, take a break from whatever you’re doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, try to relax even more.
Read Canadian Living’s “Ten One-Minute Stress Busters“.
Q: What helps you relax?