Although a certain amount of stress is necessary for creativity, learning, motivation and emergency situations, overwhelming stress can be harmful. In order to reduce stress, we need to activate the body's natural relaxation response. Deep breathing, meditation and relaxing exercises are three techniques that can be used.
Relaxation exercises can be of great benefit. If you feel you are becoming too stressed or facing a stressful situation, then try some simple breathing techniques. If you are experiencing stress in general, the daily practice of Yoga or Tai Chi can reduce the negative consequences.
Remember to take some time out for yourself when you find yourself under the circumstances, instead of on top of them.
Watching TV, lying down or sleeping are usually insufficient for producing a relaxation response. A mentally-active process that leaves the body calm, relaxed and focused is more desirable.
Relaxation techniques are not difficult, but they do require some practice and adequate time – perhaps 10-20 minutes per day or more. Because they can often be incorporated into your daily schedule, this is not as bad as it sounds. The right technique for you depends on your specific needs, preferences, fitness level, and the way you react to stress; the right technique is the one that resonates with you, and fits your lifestyle. Alternating or combing techniques can be very effective.
Many people who practice yoga say they experience a reduction of nervousness and irritability.
Mental health and physical energy are difficult to quantify, but everyone who participates in yoga over a period of time reports a positive effect on outlook and energy level. A British study of 71 healthy volunteers aged 21-76 found that a 30 minute program of yogic stretching and breathing exercises was simple to learn and resulted in a "markedly invigorating" effect on perceptions of both mental and physical energy and improved mood.
The study compared relaxation, visualization and yoga. It found that the yoga group had a significantly greater increase in perceptions of mental and physical energy and feelings of alertness and enthusiasm than the other groups. Relaxation was found to make people more sleepy and sluggish after a session, and visualization made them more sluggish and less content than those in the yoga group.
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