Healing & Well-Being

How To Relax: 6 Tips and Techniques For Relaxation

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6
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Date Published:
July 21, 2021

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Summary

It’s important to learn how to relax. When fears, anxiety, and worry build over a short period, we can feel stressed. Short periods of stress are normal and to be expected in our day-to-day lives. 

When a period of stress becomes prolonged, it can become impossible to learn how to switch off and relax. Even the Bible tells us it's important to relax. 

Matthew 6:34 tells us, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Learning relaxation techniques is essential for your mind, body, and spirit and your general wellbeing. Learning how to relax during times of stress has enormous benefits for your mental health. It'll also help you live a longer and happier life.

Remember that Luke 12:25-26 says: "And which of you by being anxious, can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?"

This article considers a range of different ways you can master the art of relaxation, starting with breathing exercises while using mindfulness, meditation, and prayer.

What does stress do to the body?

Normal levels of stress drive us to complete important tasks. When you can’t relax and feel on edge all the time, stress levels become harmful. 

The American Psychological Society identified three different types of stress.

  • Acute stress is brief and intense. It might be in response to an immediate perceived threat, either physical, emotional, or psychological (for example, after a job loss or a car accident).
  • Episodic acute stress is acute stress that is continuing.
  • Chronic stress is where you experience high levels of stress for an extended period.

Signs that you are stressed and need to slow down include the following:

  • Feeling emotional distress, including ongoing anger or irritability.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Cognitive distress with a poor attention span, slower learning, and slow processing speeds. 
  • Personal relationships are strained.
  • Prolonged muscle tension, which might include headaches, jaw pain, and back pain.
  • Upset stomach and unhealthy gut.
  • High blood pressure with a rapid heartbeat. This can sometimes even cause heart palpitations and panic attacks.
  • A compromised immune system where you get sick more often.

When stress becomes prolonged and chronic, these health conditions can be serious and life-threatening. Increasing levels of stress hormones can damage your heart and shorten your lifespan. That's why it's so important to learn effective relaxation techniques.

Businesswoman stressed at work


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How can you relax your mind and body?

Here’s six simple ways you can learn to relax both your mind and body and ease stress.

  1. Simple breathing exercises (taking deep breaths) while listening to relaxation music and using aromatherapy (particularly essential oils like lavender) have been shown to relieve stress.
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation, starting with each major muscle group. 
  3. Prayer, such as the two simple prayers suggested below.
  4. Mindful meditation
  5. Guided imagery or guided visualization. Imagine lying on a sandy beach.
  6. Exercise such as cycling, running, yoga, and tai chi.

There are lots of different types of stress relief. That’s why you have to find the right techniques for you. You might want to combine a guided visualization with calming relaxation music. All of these calming activities have demonstrated health benefits for your nervous system.

Prayers:

A Prayer to Reduce Stress

Loving God, please grant me peace of mind and calm my troubled heart. My soul is like a turbulent sea. I can't seem to find my balance so I stumble and worry constantly. Give me the strength and clarity of mind to find my purpose and walk the path you've laid out for me. I trust your Love God, and know that you will heal this stress. Just as the sun rises each day against the dark of night. Please bring me clarity with the light of God.

In your name, I pray,

- Author Unknown

Prayer for Calmness

As he sat by the river,

the eyes of his understanding began to be opened;

not that he saw any vision,

but he understood and learnt many things,

both spiritual matters and matters of faith and of scholarship,

and this with so great an enlightenment

that everything seemed new to him.

- Ignatius of Loyola, The Autobiography

Woman meditating near ocean


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How to relax from anxiety?

Many of us experience generalized anxiety, where we worry about different areas in our lives. Any number of different life stressors can cause anxiety. The most common are serious threats to our wellbeing on a day-to-day basis. However, our perceived fears can create unnecessary levels of anxiety.

The most serious life stressors are job losses, relationship breakdown, or the death of loved ones.

Generalized anxiety disorder can arise from being overworked or feeling overwhelmed in our personal lives. This is still the case, even where there's no immediate threat to our wellbeing. Our anxiety is where our fears manifest in our reality. It's here that it's most important to learn how to relax.

There are lots of different tips and techniques which can help lift our spirits and alleviate our worries. Some of these are simple life hacks that cost very little in terms of money or time. Just doing some deep breathing exercises, listening to calming relaxation music, or engaging in meditative prayer can lower your heart rate and alleviate your anxiety.

Dealing with anxiety is the first step. It all starts with these simple techniques for self-care:

  • Ask God to give you strength
  • Learn to practice gratitude first thing every morning.
  • Every night before bed, say a simple prayer and develop good sleep hygiene. You can reflect on a Bible passage such as Proverbs 3:24, which says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
  • Cuddle your pet. If you don’t have pets, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.

Remember that Luke 12:25-26 says: "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?" 

Man relaxing on balcony


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Be still and know that God loves you

Learning how to relax and be at peace is an essential life skill. You can start your day with gratitude and reflect on all the blessings that Our Lord has given you. Be grateful for good health, a roof over your head, and breath in your lungs. Before bed, say a prayer of thanks for your day and prepare for sleep with a prayer.

There will be times when we feel pressured in the workplace or in our family lives. We might even feel it within our busy Christian communities. The key to learning to relax lies in taking some quiet time in the mornings for gratitude and practicing healthy sleep hygiene and offering a prayer of thanks before sleep. Trust that God wants you to succeed and be the best version of yourself.

If you want to learn more about living a kinder, more spiritual life, download the pray.com app — for daily prayer, bedtime Bible stories, and more — on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

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