How to Feel Relaxed

Three Parts:Relaxing and DestressingFinding an Inner CalmReleasing Tension in Your Body

Relaxing can be hard to do. Kicking back, doing nothing and relaxing should seem easy, but it can be a challenge in today's fast-paced world. While there is no sure-fire solution, there are plenty of quick and easy techniques you can try that just may help and leave you feeling centered, calm, and stress-free.

Part 1
Relaxing and Destressing

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    Snack to destress. When it comes to food, they can work for or against your body and your mind. It turns out that certain foods cue our brains to give off certain hormones and put us in our happy places. Here’s a few you can try:
    • Mango. This tropical fruit is full of linalool, which has been found to lower cortisol levels (that little bugger of a hormone that makes us feel stressed).
    • Dark chocolate. Just a little over an ounce can reportedly calm the nerves and even start to stabilize metabolism levels.[1]
    • Gum. Chewing gum (the act of repeated chewing, actually) can help fight anxiety and stress, combating pretty much any negative mood.[2]
    • Complex carbs, like whole-grain breads and whole oatmeal. It turns out all carbs prompt the brain to produce serotonin (no wonder humans love them so much). Serotonin is one of those happy-making chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Just stick to brown, complex ones for your health.[3]
    • Something crunchy. Studies have reported that stressed individuals often crave crunchy foods, and that’s likely linked back to chewing (that fights anxiety, as listed above). To calm the craving and the stress, nosh on some nuts, celery, or pretzels.
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    Put on your favorite song. If it’s relaxing, of course. Studies show that listening to calming music that you like can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and reduce perceived levels of anxiety.[4] And it doesn’t necessarily have to be calming per se, you just have to find it calming. So if it’s death metal that calms you, rock away.
    • It doesn’t hurt to dance it out, either. Not only is dance a great way to get in your cardio workout, but there’s science to back up the fact that it can lower anxiety, too.[5] So hop on your bed and start getting jiggy for the sake of your body and your mind.
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    Read a good book or write in your journal. Though journaling might not be your thing, you may want to reconsider: recent research says that writing down your worries gets rid of them and helps you feel more confident, which can improve outcomes, like test scores.[6] You may not feel relaxed going into it, but afterward, you could feel a lot better.
    • If that doesn’t sound rewarding and relaxing to you, try just hankering down with a good book. If it’s full of jokes, even better. If you’re looking for something a little more constructive, try a word or crossword puzzle to get your mind away from the stress and into the problem-solving zone.
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    Try aromatherapy. It’s been around for centuries because it works: the soothing scents of aromatherapy travel up our olfactory system and into our brain, taking over where stress and anxiety once set up camp. Just a whiff of one of these smells can bring a relaxing feeling over your entire body.[7]
    • Rose, bergamot, lavender, orange, lemon, and sandalwood are all great options. But whatever scent makes you feel good is good, too.
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    Grab a cup of tea. Did you know that chamomile, passionflower, and green teas all have stress-fighting effects? Yep.[8] They’ve been found to reduce anger and even fight depression.[9] So next time you reach for that latte, switch it up with a cup of tea instead.
    • There’s more science to back up honey as being an anxiety-fighter and a mood-uplifter, too.[10] If you’re not a fan of these teas plain, try them with a teaspoon of honey for a total win-win.

Part 2
Finding an Inner Calm

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    Meditate. Did you know that just five minutes of meditation can start to relieve the symptoms of stress and depression?[11] Just five minutes. So why not give it a try? All you have to do is find a quiet, peaceful place and start focusing on your breath. We all want easy, right? This is it.
    • More and more doctors are starting to recommend meditation for everyone to combat stress, anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain.[12] We all have one of those. And you don’t have to get cross-legged on a mountaintop either. Outside or inside, sprawled out or not, just focus and you’ve got it.
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    Monitor your breathing. Maybe full-fledged meditation isn't up your alley, but how about some simple breath monitoring? It's been shown to even be able to lower blood pressure, fight stress, and lead to feelings of calm and relaxation.[13] Here's how to get started:
    • "Equal breathing" is where you breathe slowly in and out at an even rate. Start with four counts breathing in slowly, and four counts out slowly. Once you get used to this, throughout the days work up to five, six, seven, and eight counts of slow, equal inhalation and exhalation.
    • Another common method is deep breathing with your diaphragm. Place a hand on your stomach and breathe in through your nose slowly, lifting your stomach and not your chest. Aim for six to ten slow, deep breaths for per minute for 10 minutes a day.[14]
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    Visualize your happy place. Sometimes all we need to is to mentally step away from our surroundings. A good way to destress from the moment, calm our nerves, and center our focus is to use visualization. Just close your eyes, and picture a place that makes you happy. Use all your senses, too. What does the air feel like? Do you smell anything?
    • Or get creative with "creative visualization." This is where you picture an event that makes you happy. Perhaps your favorite movie star knocks on your door and asks you to marry him or her. You immediately say yes and embrace in a long, loving hug. Now where do you want the honeymoon to be?
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    Create your space. The brain tends to associate places with feelings. It's why you're encouraged not to bring work into the bedroom, for example. But this can also work positively: if you can get your brain to associate a place with relaxation, that can be your space, or your zen zone. When you need to relax, come to this place and your brain may automatically decompress.[15]
    • It doesn't matter if it's a chair in a corner and some lit incense or a room full of golden and burgundy pillows. If it works for you and your brain, that's all that matters.
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    Get into nature. Just how relaxing can a cubicle or your messy room really be? Humans have come up with some great things, but nothing we have created can rival the feeling we get when we're in nature. If life is stressing you out, get outside. Talk a walk, play with your dog, or just lie in the grass and soak it in (when's the last time you did that?). There's something about the natural world that can produce a sense of awed calm, leaving us breathing a little easier.
    • It's a good idea to make being in nature a part of your daily routine (you need that vitamin D, anyway). Exercise outside if you can, go for a short walk, or do some yard work to get outside and get your mind clear.
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    Orient and ground yourself. If you're feeling really stressed, odds are you're not thinking about the physical moment. To get out of your head and into a more tangible reality, start by orienting and grounding yourself. Here are the details:[16]
    • To orient yourself, realize your surroundings. Where are you? What time is it? What's the weather like? If this were a novel, how would the author describe the setting? This gets you out of your head and into the world around you, which is free from stress and worry.
    • Once you're oriented, ground yourself. This means getting in tune with your senses. How does the shirt feel on your back? Are your feet touching the floor? Do you hear or smell anything? This helps you realize how much is going on that you're not even thinking about at any moment and centers your brain on other sets of stimuli.

Part 3
Releasing Tension in Your Body

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    Get a massage (or give yourself one). You probably don't have your own personal masseuse on call (don't worry; most of us don't), so why not take a second to give yourself a hand massage. Why? They can lower a racing heart and provide almost instant feelings of relaxation.[17] We use our hands all the time and barely realize how much work we're putting the muscles through (especially for those of us at computers). A little bit of muscle relaxation can lead to mind relaxation, too.
    • If you have the money and the time, a full-body massage from a professional can be just the ticket you need to find your inner zen zone and maintain a sense of calm. The focus on your body and muscles takes your mind out of your worry and into your body, helping you forget whatever it is you were once stressing.
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    Try progressive relaxation. Another way to take control of your breathing and muscles and to get to relaxing your mind is through progressive body relaxation. To do this, start by laying down. Breathe comfortably, letting the moment brew. Move your focus to your toes and relax them completely. Once they're relaxed, move the focus to your ankles. Slowly but surely work your way up your entire body until every body part, no matter how small, has had its due. When you finally reach the tip of your nose, you'll be in such a relaxed state you won't want to get up.
    • You could also try progressive relaxation through breathing. This is where you start focusing on breathing slowly and evenly. Then, on the exhale, let go of a portion of your tension. Inhale regularly focusing on just your breathing, and let go of another portion of your tension on the next exhale. With each exhale, more and more of your tension will be released, and you'll feel more and more relaxed.
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    Try acupressure. It's pretty hard to give ourselves a really great massage, especially when it's hard to reach certain places, like the shoulders or back. Instead, try acupressure, a sort of touch-massage that releases tension. Every body has certain pressure points, and cluing into them balances our fluids and stabilizes our energies, leading to feelings of relaxation.[18]
    • To give this a try, simply try squeezing the pad of skin between your pointer finger and thumb. Hold it there for 5 seconds and release. Do you feel the tension melt off of you as you release the pressure?
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    Do some yoga or stretching. Both yoga and stretching have been shown to reduce anxiety and reduce stress levels, making relaxing much easier to do.[19][20] Why? When you're doing either of these activities, you're focusing on your body, your balance, and your breathing, all three of which can take you away from the material world we're all so worried about and into a world of calm.
    • The legs-up-the-wall pose is one of the yoga poses that has been found to be particularly effective. It's fairly self-explanatory, too. With your butt against a wall, bolstered up by a few blankets, lift your legs up directly above you. Hold that pose for 5 minutes and come back down.[21]


  • Good posture will enable you to breathe better.
  • Go out in fresh air.This will freshen you up and lighten your spirits.
  • Don't use devices before bed as the artificial blue light from them can add to stress.

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Categories: Relaxation Techniques