Relaxation Techniques
For Mental Health

This page discusses Relaxation Techniques For Mental Health.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your own mental wellbeing is to just still your mind.

Through certain techniques and exercises, you can learn to stop the racing thoughts and regain your footing so that stress and anxiety no longer overwhelm you.

Outlined below are some of the best relaxation techniques for mental health available. They are simple to implement into your daily life yet go a long way toward improving your state of mind.

The idea is to start small and work in a slow but steady progression as your skills are sharpened. Try one or two to start, but as you grow more comfortable with these techniques, broaden your spectrum to encompass them all.

When combined, these relaxation techniques for mental health are powerful and will improve your mental state, relieve anxiety and increase your focus.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness, also known as shamatha, meditation is simply a way of calming and stabilizing the mind.

The natural state of the human mind is to be this way, but it tends to become overloaded with the pressures of the world either at our own hand or just through circumstance.

Shamatha practice is not a sleep state but actually it is a highly focused, mindful state of mind. It is peaceful and energizing at the same time.

  • Environment – Try to find a place, whether at home or at work, that is not very noisy or busy. It should be a place where you feel reasonable comfortable but it should not be a place that makes you feel depressed. If you can get alone, that is even better.
  • Time and Frequency – You should start slowly, ten minutes or so, but increase your time to fifteen or twenty minutes – or even more. But do not force it; keep it simple. If you can, do this in the morning and at night. If that is not possible, once a day is OK. Of course, you can do this any time you are feeling tense.
  • Technique – You want to allow your energy to flow freely, so you want your posture to be erect and relaxed. Yoga can be incorporated into this as well. You may sit on a chair or on the floor, just keep your posture straight.
  • Practice – Keep your gaze soft, not staring, but focused slightly downward so that nothing can draw your focus or steal your attention. Breathe normally but be conscious of each breath you take, in and out. By staying conscious of your breathing, you can redirect your mind from troubling thoughts as they arise. Do not force the thoughts out, rather gently move them aside and redirect your attention to your breathing. Eventually you will learn how to move easily into that peaceful state and let your mind take a break from the frustrations and tensions of daily life.

Tai Chi

Tai chi, pronounced “tie-chee,” was once a form of self-defense.

However, it was discovered that these graceful movements contributed greatly to improved mental health and stress relief.

It quickly became a very popular relaxation technique. It is often combined with shamatha, or mindfulness.

  • Environment – You will need a roomy space in which to practice. Tai chi does involve motion and you will be taking several steps to one side or the other. Exactly how much space really depends on how tall you are (longer legs take longer steps). Just make sure you have room to move freely.
  • Time and Frequency – Tai chi is a series of connected movements as opposed to a set of unconnected exercises. With tai chi, one movement flows into the next. This means that you can’t really cut your session short, but there are sessions you can learn that are 10 minutes in length, although the more popular sessions are 20 to 30 minutes. You can do tai chi at any point in your day, but it is recommended that you do it to start your day. This has been a custom for people in China for centuries.
  • Technique – There are different styles of tai chi so you should find one that is best for you. You can find many DVDs and books that will provide instruction, but it is recommended that you spend at least a little time with an instructor so that you can learn the proper form and the techniques that are most beneficial to you and any physical limitations you may have. Just as with any exercise, if tai chi is not done properly, you do risk injury.
  • Practice – Depending on which style of tai chi you choose, you will be guided through the movements. Take it easy at first. The gracefulness of the motion is deceptive. This is a very physical exercise and you may find yourself a little sore the following day. The mental health benefits of this relaxation technique, however, are astounding. Once you learn the movements, you can incorporate mindfulness for maximum benefit.

Yoga

Yoga is another centuries old practice that is designed to unite mind, body and spirit, creating harmony and peace within the mind. It is one of the most popular relaxation techniques in the world, but also offers added benefits of increased strength and flexibility.

  • Environment – The environment required for yoga depends on the type of yoga you choose. Basic requirements would include an area that allows some freedom of movement, is quiet and comfortable. You may need a mat or towel for the floor work.
  • Time and Frequency – Because yoga is a set of exercises that can be connected or performed separately, you can perform the motions almost anywhere at any time. If you are incorporating yoga into your daily routine, you may choose to begin your day with a routine. However, unlike conventional exercise, there are many yoga movements that promote relaxation and improved sleep, so you may also choose to do some before bed.
  • Technique – Yoga has so many different styles, but you can use books and DVDs to help you find a style that is best for you. It is advised that you spend a little time with an instructor so that you can learn proper form and breathing to attain the maximum benefits.
  • Practice – Using yoga for relaxation is simple and can help you sleep better. Combine it with mindfulness meditation for increased mental health benefits. Try this simple yoga exercise for relaxation. Sit on the floor or on your bed facing a wall or your headboard. Lie down so that your legs are closest to the wall. Extend your legs up the wall and scoot your bottom either closer to or farther from the wall, depending on your flexibility and comfort in the stretch. Allow your arms to rest at your sides, positioned slightly away from your body, palms up. Practice your mindfulness as you breathe gently in and out, feeling the stretch in your legs and the tension drain from your body. Hold this for 1 to 2 minutes. The Goddess Stretch is another good pose.

You can also try the Child’s Pose by sitting on your heels (your feet are tucked under you) and laying your torso over your legs so that your head rests on the floor (or bed) in front of you with your arms extended in front of you, palms down. The object is to bring your chest as close to your knees as possible. Hold this pose for about 2 minutes, breathing gently.

This next yoga pose for relaxation is good if flexibility is an issue. Lie on your bed (or the floor) on your back; bring your knees toward your chest while crossing your ankles. Wrap your arms around your shins and clasp your hands together. As you inhale, rock your body into a sitting position. As you roll back, gently exhale. If flexibility is a problem, use a towel to wrap over your legs and hold each end. Only roll as far forward as you can. The object is not to exert a tremendous amount of energy, but to release tension so be as kind to your body as possible.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation technique for mental health that teaches you how to control the amount of tension in your body, specifically your muscles.

 This practice has had exceptional results in reducing stress and anxiety as well as improving mental health. It should be emphasized that these are not exercises; rather it is a technique that releases tension.

  • Environment – You need to be in an area where you can lie down comfortably (although some people have been successful in doing this, at least in part, in a sitting position). You want to choose an area that is quiet and comfortable, where you can loosen any restrictive clothing and relax.
  • Time and Frequency – This relaxation technique can be used any time you need it. It takes several minutes, depending on your needs, but it does not have to be time consuming.
  • Technique – The technique is simply a tensing and relaxing of different muscle groups. It can be repeated over and over. There is little to no chance of injury. You should practice your mindfulness as you do this, paying attention to each muscle group as you work it. Be mindful of the tension you create and the release of tension as you relax.
  • Practice – Starting with your forehead, tense that muscle group by raising your eyebrows as high as possible and hold for 5 seconds. Relax and move on to the next muscle group. Squeeze your eyes shut tightly and hold for 5 seconds, relax. Move on to your lips and cheeks, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, back, stomach, hips and buttocks, thighs, feet and toes. As you isolate each muscle group and tense it, hold for 5 seconds then relax. Pay close attention to the tensing and relaxing of those muscles. If a group seems to still be tense, you can work on that group several times. It is a good idea to go through the entire process several times, focusing your mind on the feeling of relaxation.

Conclusion

Some of the best remedies we have for tension, anxiety and mental health wellness are within our own body. Once you learn how to focus your mind and move your body in ways that promote relaxation and peace, you will have calmness at your fingertips. Learn one of these relaxation techniques for mental health or learn them all and find the healing within yourself.




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