August 15th is National Relaxation Day, a reminder to focus on self-care and the importance of taking the time to slow down and unwind. Relaxation not only benefits your mental health and wellbeing, but it can improve your physical health and psychological health as well.

Excessive stress can contribute to medical issues such as high blood pressure, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, stress increases heart rate and blood flow, which causes cholesterol to enter the bloodstream. Stress also increases the likelihood of smoking or obesity, resulting in a host of other medical issues.

mental health

Benefits of relaxation

When life gets busy, it’s hard to remember to take time for yourself and make self-care a priority. Yet, even setting aside 15 minutes a day can have a considerable impact on your mental health and physical well being

Implementing relaxation into your life can have many benefits such as:

  • Reducing hypertension

  • Slowing your breathing rate

  • Improving digestion

  • Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels

  • Increasing blood flow

  • Reducing chronic pain

  • Improving concentration

  • Improving sleep

  • Reducing irritability and anger

Relaxation techniques

There are several techniques you can use to practice relaxation and improve your mental health.

Guided imagery

There are many guided imagery apps and online recordings available to help you generate imagery that you find calming, and that has personal significance.

Mindful Meditation

This technique involves focusing on your breathing and keeping your mind in the present moment, and research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.

Yoga

Yoga combines rhythmic breathing with a series of postures and movements. This technique can improve your balance and flexibility as well as your mental focus. However, this relaxation method might be too challenging for people with certain physical impairments, so it’s always best to consult your physician first.

Breathing exercises

Long, slow, deep breaths- also known as abdominal breathing- are the focus of this relaxation technique. The goal is to disengage your mind from worrying, racing, or distracting thoughts and focus on the present moment.

There are also some unconventional techniques that are simple and quick yet effective.

Blowing bubbles.

Not only is it fun, but it’s also an opportunity to practice deep breathing and to be mindful of your surroundings.

Chewing gum

Chewing gum is known to reduce anxiety and lower levels of Cortisol (stress hormone)

Laughing

Laughter is shown to decrease stress and anxiety. Listening to a comedy show, watching a funny movie, or laughing with some friends can help you relax and help significantly lower your stress levels.

Learning and implementing new relaxation techniques takes time and practice- like learning any new skill. Once you start to recognize some of your stress triggers and what your stress response feels like, you can make an intentional effort to practice a relaxation technique when you begin to feel stress symptoms -before the stress can spiral out of control. It’s important to be patient with yourself to improve your mental health. If one method doesn’t work for you, you can keep trying.

When to seek treatment

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms of stress, it’s wise to seek mental health services before those symptoms cause or exacerbate physical or mental health issues. Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment. We have therapists online who can help you learn some new coping skills and techniques to help you reduce your stress.