Mental and physical relaxation techniques: the best exercises and methods
Stress has been defined by numerous neuroscientists as the non-specific response of the organism to any pressure or request, meaning the entire mind and body system by organism. Neuroscientists have therefore established that thoughts and emotions are truly interconnected with the physiology of the body. Our body reacts to stress by triggering a series of physiological responses that derive from the evolution of our species, producing hormones such as cortisol and neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine.
In everyday life we encounter a series of internal and external stressors such as economic worries, work frustrations, health problems, traffic, etc.
Our body very often cannot tell the difference between an external threat or an internal threat (like for example a thought, a memory, an emotion): both are treated as threats to be eliminated by triggering the so-called ‘fight or flight mode‘, thus increasing the state of physical tension with a consequent increase in heart rate and blood pressure, sweating and other significant physiological reactions.
When this fight or flight reaction develops without there being a real imminent threat to our life, we reach the peak of arousal, but we do not have the consequent physical discharge nor the recovery phase, instead we hold everything inside. our emotional charge and this gives us a state of perennial stress in our organism.
Today most of the stress we experience comes mainly from:
– Real and imaginary threats to our social position
- Daily mishaps
For all these reasons it is important to change the way we respond to stressors, and we can do this through awareness. By learning to focus on the present moment and through awareness, it is easier to learn to distinguish real stressors from imaginary ones.
In this article we will discover some of the most effective relaxation techniques that can help you reduce daily stress, better deal with the most insidious moments of the day and guarantee lasting well-being in your daily life.
Yoga Nidra – Deep Relaxation
Yoga Nidra is one of the aspects of yogic practice, also called Yogic sleep, as it brings the practitioner into a condition similar to sleep while maintaining the state of consciousness, which is why it is also called deep relaxation.
Yoga Nitra is practiced in a supine lying position. This position is made comfortable according to the physical conditions of each practitioner. It can also be practiced by placing supports where tension or pain is felt in some parts of the body, for example by placing a pillow under the knees or a rolled blanket under the neck. It is recommended to be well covered with your clothes and possibly with a blanket, because during relaxation, especially in winter, the body temperature drops.
After having arranged and covered the body, the practice is started following the teacher’s voice: one proceeds by contracting and releasing the muscles of the various parts of the body following a precise order, all parts of the body are mentally relaxed and finally the state of relaxation of the body, one’s own breath and finally the peace reached within us is observed. At the end, the teacher remains silent for a few minutes. In this second silent part of the practice, if you can remain conscious, let’s say in a state similar to the one that precedes sleep, we will be able to experience a beautiful and regenerating sensation, during which we will reach an introspection similar to that of meditation.
Mindfulness – MBSR Protocol
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was designed by prof. Jon Kabat Zinn and his collaborators, in America in the late 1970s.
The purpose that animates Kabat Zinn is to allow people to welcome their own reality, as it is given to them, be it pleasant or unpleasant.
Therefore, it is not part of the common relaxation techniques, but a real method that, thanks to a voluntary act of our ability to pay attention, transforms us into a non-judgmental observer.
In fact, the mindfulness practices proposed by the Mindfulness protocol allow you to train yourself to see what is there, without being trapped, whether they are events, emotional states, thoughts
Mindfulness can be practiced at any time of the day. The practice can be formal and informal.
The practice of formal Mindfulness requires you to carve out time each day to devote to meditation, in silence, paying attention to breathing, senses, emotions, sounds …
The practice of informal Mindfulness, on the other hand, does not follow precise rules. It consists in becoming aware of everyday life, paying new attention to all those daily activities that we often carry out by inserting the “automatic pilot”: eating, walking, taking a shower, driving, doing housework.
Scientific studies show that music greatly affects the psychophysical balance of the individual, regulates the heartbeat and breathing, obviously listening to suitable music. Music therapy is the discipline that uses music and its elements (sound, rhythm, melody, harmony) as a therapeutic tool, through non-verbal communication, thanks to a relational use of the sound element, in order to promote the well-being of the whole person, body, mind and spirit.
When used as a relaxation technique, music therapy offers breathing exercises combined with the use of the voice, with the free expression of vocality to vent and counteract anxiety and mental tensions. The music therapist, knowing the subject in depth, can help him in choosing the most suitable pieces for him to lead him into a conscious listening.
The pieces are always chosen following the characteristics and compositional techniques that induce deep relaxation.
Lie on your back and listen to this song whose combination of relaxing frequencies generates Delta brain waves that are the perfect accompaniment for relaxation and to defeat insomnia, anxiety and stress.
Yoga and Tai chi Qi gong.
Yoga is a relaxing practice par excellence, following the breath with every movement, feeling the air that fills the lungs and goes to work in the right places at each asana, induces a deep focus on oneself which implies a state of calm and relaxation. and absence of thoughts. The meditative part and the chanting of mantra or yogic music, such as the one played with the bansuri, the Indian bamboo flute, will do the rest. With tai chi, which is defined as “mobilization before and after movement”, the blood flows better, the tendons relax, muscle tension is avoided. Qi gong refers to a series of practices and exercises related to traditional Chinese medicine and in part to martial arts that involve meditation, mental concentration, breathing control and particular physical exercise movements. Qi gong is generally practiced for the maintenance of good physical and psychological health and well-being, through the care and increase of one’s internal energy (Qi).