How to relieve stress

You can relieve stress in various ways. Even the same method may not work all the time; so you try different things. But at the root of all stress busters is relaxation. You have to calm both your mind and your body.

Here are some exercises people use to relax. Each exercise usually takes 15 to 20 minutes, but you can always try “mini” session if you’re pressed for time and in desperate need of some stress release.

Deep Breathing

Take a deep, slow breath. Let the air come in through your nose and move deep into your lower stomach. Then breathe out through your mouth. Repeat this for several minutes. Imagine that the air coming in carries peace and calm, and the air you exhale contains your tension.

Body Scan

Close your eyes and do some deep breathing exercises. Then in your mind do a scan of your entire body, beginning with the top of your head and moving down to your feet. With each breath, focus on a different part of your body. As you breathe in, notice any muscle tension in the various parts of your body. As you breathe out, let go of that tension.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

As you perform a body scan, tighten the muscles in each area to increase the tension. Then slowly release the tension. Do this for each part of your body, from head to toe. You’ll find that you feel much more relaxed after letting go of the tension.

Meditation

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and close your eyes. As you breathe deeply, repeat a word or sound over and over again either to yourself or softly aloud. Concentrating on your breathing or on the repeated word helps you to focus your attention. Meditation can help you to slow down your breathing and heart rate, ease muscular tension, and respond calmly to stressful situations. Once you are used to meditating, you can use it to relieve stress while you stand, walk, or jog. Some people even meditate while doing everyday things such as waiting for the bus, doing the dishes, and so on.

Guided Imagery

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Then close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Now imagine you are in a place where you know you can relax, such as on the beach or in your cozy bed. Now visualize yourself in this one spot. Take in the sounds, smells, and scenery around you. Savor them one by one. As you become more experienced with imagery, you can use it anywhere. For example, if stress takes over your mind while you are taking a pop quiz in English, take a couple of minutes to use imagery to relax so you can focus on the quiz.

Yoga

An ancient practice based on Indian teachings, yoga is one of the oldest relaxation exercises. There are many different kinds of yoga, but all involve physical poses, meditation, and deep breathing. Everything you do as you practice yoga strengthens, stretches, and relaxes both your mind and your body. And while yoga has been around a long time, it is very popular today. You can easily find a class, book, or video to learn more about this effective stress-relieving exercise.

Tai Chi

Also from Eastern culture, Tai Chi involves slow-motion stretching and boxing movements that put you in touch with your inner energy and the energy around you. You focus on balance. You are strong, not tense; relaxed, not limp. You begin to relax as you move. Tai Chi is an exercise that must be learned. Ask your physical education teacher where you might find some classes.

Aerobic Exercise

Any kind of physical exercise, whether it be a team sport or a simple walk around the block, can help relieve stress. When your brain sends out those stress hormones, your body readies itself to respond. If you can release that pent-up energy, your body will benefit in the long run.