I’m a big proponent of relaxing, and with good cause. Stress is on the rise, up 30% in 30 years and, with it, everything from anxiety to sleep disorders to heart disease. Definitely no coincidence — and definitely another reason I advocate, simply, relaxing.
I get it — for the overwrought and increasingly anxious masses, it’s not always that simple, especially not in the moment. I could jump on a soapbox and advocate yoga, meditation, healthy diet and shifting your lifestyle to bring stress levels down and relaxation up — things I practice and preach in my own life and work — but I recognize that when you smack your head against the stress ceiling, you need something now. And that, more importantly, meaningful insta-relief can be the first step towards not just immediate calm but long term stress reduction and the countless benefits that ensue.
So what to do now if you need to turn it all off? Start here, with these relaxation techniques. And, bonus, they all take a minute or less. I’m confident after tackling a few you’ll start to see marked improvements and, even, be ready to take on some permanent lifestyle shifts that will help keep the chatter, the commotion and the unnecessary anxiety at bay.
But, for today, I’m confident you’ve got 60 seconds. Breathe in…
WHEN YOU NEED TO…QUIET THAT PESKY INNER VOICE
The self-doubt. The what-ifs. The second guessing. We’ve all been there. But when the internal push and pull becomes too much to bear, you have to turn it off or risk driving your self-induced stress and anxiety to epic proportions. How? Really listen to those voices and make yourself keenly aware of what you’re hearing and experiencing. It sounds counterintuitive, but go with me.
Once you’re really invested in the tone, pitch, volume and overall message, turn it down — then turn it down again. Now it’s softer and softer like you’re turning the volume dial on a stereo. Keeping turning until you’re at one. Then, just as easily, switch it off. It should take you a minute or less but once you’ve mastered your own internal off/off switch, the payoff is unparalleled. Imagine being able to quiet your inner voice, and imagine the calm you’ll be able to cultivate in an instant.
WHEN YOU NEED TO…CALM DOWN NOW
Chances are you’ve tried deep breathing as a relaxation technique in the past — but, likely, there was one key piece missing from this go-to tactic: focus. By adding a layer of focus to your breathing you’ll not only naturally calm your body and mind but, at the same time, shift your thoughts away from whatever is driving your anxiety.
The simplest way to shift focus? Take deep breathes in and out through your nose and count backwards from a very high number — 10,000 or 20,000, for example. Don’t worry about a correct count — if you lose your place just start over. Keep breathing, keep counting and keep focusing on the numbers. Within 60 seconds you should find your heart rate leveling off, your breath getting deeper and more deliberate, and you focus getting clearer — take a minute and savor the calm before moving on with, likely, greater clarity and less needless mental clutter.
WHEN YOU NEED TO…START THE DAY OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Ever lay in bed and, before the day starts, already feel stressed and overwhelmed? While this approach won’t get your 9AM budget meeting cancelled, it will help you kick off the morning on a more positive, more productive note.
Here’s all you have to do: set that hideous beep, beep, beep on your alarm or phone for a calm, relaxing wake-up sound. A favorite song? Perfect. A cheery, uplifting sound? Great. Something from your workout mix to psych you up? Love it. Bonus points if you can have the sound gradually increase until you’re gently pulled into the new day.
The only thing that’s banned? Any sound that shocks the system and innately starts you on the wrong foot. Not a good way to start the day and, from where I sit, the easiest way to find yourself in the midst of a “bad day” before it’s even begun.
These are simple, manageable ways to get and stay relaxed. You can readily take on one or, even, all three in a single day — today, even — without any major work/life overhauls. As you start to feel more relaxed more regularly taking on more substantial stress-busting tactics will seem easier and more accessible. It’s a healthy cycle — you feel better, you do more, you feel even better. And the cycle continues.
But it starts here — it starts with simple, easy steps that drive instant relaxation, calm and comfort even in your most stressful moments. So close your eyes, turn down the volume, take a breath and shift your AM routine and see how good it feels to relax…