According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from some form of anxiety or depression. People all over the world are increasingly comfortable discussing the issue, which is the first step towards acceptance and healing, although they still have a stigma in some cultures.
Although sadness and mood swings can often be part of normal life, people with depression or an anxiety disorder often experience a much more intense depth of emotion that can be very disturbing and debilitating.
In today’s relentless rat race, the following question arises: what is the best exercise for stress relief?
In stressful situations, the following simple and effective solutions can help you relax and calm down within seconds.
Watch your breathing. Learn how to control your life spirit.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is also sometimes called relaxing breathing, and works as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. It is recommended by experts not to do it too often or for more than four breaths at a time during the first month of practice.
In this exercise the 4-7-8 ratio is important:
1) Exhale completely through your mouth and around your tongue while making a rushing noise.
2) Try to spout your lips a little, even if it feels uncomfortable in the beginning.
3) Slowly close your mouth, inhale quietly through your nose and mentally count to four.
4) Then mentally count to seven while holding your breath.
5) Exhale at eight count while making an audible, noisy sound.
Yoga poses that relax the body and mind.
In this posture nothing is required, your whole body relaxes completely and your breathing deepens by itself.
Lie on your back and let your feet fall out. Then turn your palms up to the ceiling. Cover yourself with a blanket so that you are nice and warm. Focus your attention on your breathing and relax all your muscles one by one. Stay in this position for at least 5 minutes.
Legs against the wall
This is an exercise with a very easy posture. Perfect for beginners!
Rest on your back, with your buttocks against the wall and your legs in the air. This posture brings your blood circulation back up and helps against insomnia. Stay in this posture for at least 5 minutes and feel the difference.
Lie on your back with your knees raised to your chest. Stretch one leg and pull the opposite knee over your body while keeping your shoulder blades in contact with the floor. Make your arm long and turn your head away from your knee.
Hold the knee with the other hand. Stay in this position for at least a minute and then change legs. Now wring yourself out and let go of all the stress…
This pose takes you all the way back to the basics and spontaneously creates a calm vibe. Also, nice about this pose is that there are different variations. Do you sit behind your desk a lot? If so, choose the version in which your knees are apart and your belly hangs down a bit. Bring your arms straight forward for extra stretch in your shoulders and forearms. Do you just want more relaxation? Then you better put your arms back with the palms up. Stay at least 10 breaths in this pose. Enjoy!
Do you suffer from headaches? Release tension in your muscles.
Stress easily cramps your neck and shoulder muscles causing headaches. For example because of small daily irritations such as noise disturbance, but also work pressure, financial problems, illness or a shocking event.
If you relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders several times a day, you reduce your stress complaints.
Below you will find some neck and shoulder relaxation exercises in case of stress:
1) Sit up straight and close your eyes. Imagine someone pulls your head up on a piece of string. Breathe through your nose and push your chest forward. Your shoulders go down and to the back. Then blow the tension out through your mouth.
2) Lower your chin on your chest and make small circular movements with your head. From your right to your left shoulder.
3) Raise your shoulders as high as possible and breathe in. Now tighten your muscles. Then slowly lower the shoulders again as you exhale the tension.
4) Also massaging your scalp with your fingertips by making circular movements will help you relax.
Stop worrying through meditation.
Lots of people meditate to calm down. There are many types of meditations possible, dive into the different types and choose one that not only suits you, but also one that is easy to fit into your daily schedule.
You can choose to start or end your day with a (longer) meditation and let your head and body come to rest completely. During the day you can also choose for a brief meditation of only 5 to 10 minutes. These small moments of rest can significantly reduce feelings of stress in your body.
When you’re a newbie in meditation, it can help to combine it with another activity. A simple example: brushing your teeth. When you start meditation after brushing your teeth, over time your brain will link one activity with another. So after a while, after brushing your teeth, you will spontaneously begin to meditate.
People who like a real challenge should try Vipassana meditation, a 10-day residential silence retreat.
Control your monkey mind. Be mindful as a Buddha.
During a day we often do not consciously address what we think or feel. Unconsciously we think, say and do a lot and therefore we unconsciously feel a lot. Through mindfulness you learn how to be with your attention in the ‘here and now’ and not resisting the sensations, emotions or thoughts you are experiencing. You accept everything that comes up and just stay present with it.
1) Try to stop everything you do for a few minutes. Now consciously focus on what you feel and ask yourself what your body needs to feel less stressed.
2) Pay attention to environmental sounds and scents. For example, listen to the singing of birds as you cycle to work.
3) Mini-mindful moments: Going for a walk in nature, listening to your favourite song, or having a conscious cup of tea can make a huge difference.
Practicing Mindfulness or other forms of Meditating on your own is a good way to start, but we will always remain social animals. When your meditation arts are more advanced, you can decide to join a group.
Shape your own destiny.
Back to our main question: What is the best exercise for stress relief?
If you regularly integrate the above-mentioned exercises into your daily routine, you will feel the results immediately. Your overall stress level will drop, you will be more energetic and better able to cope with daily obstacles on your path. The beautiful thing is that you can do them at any time of the day or place.
May you experience inner peace and tranquility. Feel free to leave a comment below.
With love ❤,