Don’t panic if meditation isn’t your thing – try these relaxation techniques instead
You’ve probably heard a lot about meditation in recent years. Some research has found that meditation – particularly mindfulness meditation – can be very good for helping with conditions such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.1
But let’s face it, meditation isn’t for everyone. And if you struggle with it, there are plenty of other relaxation techniques available to help you unwind.
One 2018 study published in the International Journal of Yoga found yoga-style breathing – deep down, into the stomach – can ease stress, and lower your blood pressure and heart rate.2 Try a yoga class with a focus on breathing, or sit with your feet on the floor, breathe through your nose deep into your belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Continue for three to five minutes.3
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A form of self-hypnosis designed to you feel slow, heavy and relaxed. In a South Korean study, autogenic training was shown to reduce stress in a group of student nurses who took part in an eight-week programme.4 Search online to find an autogenic trainer near you.
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A stress-reduction practice blending Eastern traditions like yoga and zen meditation with Western relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy. It’s big in continental Europe and is said to help bust stress, build a positive mindset, and improve sleep.5
Take a break from social media
It may be an everyday part of your life, but it could be worth having a social media holiday when you’re under pressure. An Australian study found when people took a five-day break from Facebook, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped.6
Listen to classical music
Research from Oxford University found listening to relaxing classical music lowered blood pressure and breathing rate. They think this may be partly down to its soothing effect on our heart and mood.7
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Go for a green walk
One of the fastest ways to beat stress is go for a walk in a natural environment. Research led by scientists at De Montfort University found those who took part in a group walk in a ‘green’ environment once a week had lower stress levels than those walking in urban areas.8
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Meditation: In Depth. Available from: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
2. Naik GS, Gaur GS, Pal GK. Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769199/
3. NHS. Moodzone. Breathing exercise for stress. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/
4. Lim SJ, Kim C. Effects of Autogenic Training on Stress Response and Heart Rate Variability in Nursing Students. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S197613171400070X
5. The Sophrology Network: What is Sophrology? Available from: http://thesophrologynetwork.co.uk/what-is-sophrology/
6. Vanman EJ, Baker R, Tobin SJ. The burden of online friends: the effects of giving up Facebook on stress and well-being. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224545.2018.1453467?journalCode=vsoc20
7. Koelsch S, Jancke L. European Heart Journal. Music and the heart. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/36/44/3043/2293535
8. Marselle MR, Irvine K, Warber SL. Walking for Well-Being: Are Group Walks in Certain Types of Natural Environments Better for Well-Being than Group Walks in Urban Environments? Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863862/