5 simple relaxation exercises to combat stress

relax x1

Changes can be exciting, but they can also be stressful and unsettling. We can probably all agree that this year’s big changes have been more of the latter. We’ve all had stress to deal with over the past few months and whether you’re worried about work, your loved ones or your own health – it can be a heavy burden.

During stressful times our brains tend to work in overdrive and our thoughts can often be fixated on the cause or consequences of what’s making us anxious. Often the key to stopping yourself from becoming consumed by stress and anxiety is to occupy your mind with something relaxing rather than your fears and worries.

You might have scoffed at meditation in the past, but it doesn’t have to mean sitting cross-legged chanting for hours on end. There are so many simple exercises that can help you relax with no cheesy mantras required. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

All you need to do is sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and try out these exercises until you find the right one for you.

#1 The hurricane

Picture yourself in the eye of a hurricane. It’s calm, quiet and sunny there.

Everything that is stressing you out in life is floating away into the storm and out of your line of vision. When negative thoughts arise just let them blow off into the distance.

Cloud vortex


#2 Three-part breathing

This is a technique normally used during yoga, but it can be applied in everyday situations too. It’s really simple and can help you calm down if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

To try it out, slowly breathe in through your nose to the count of 3 full seconds. On each inhale, imagine your breath filling your stomach and repeat 3 times. Now breath in again and imagine your breath expanding out through your ribs and repeat this 3 times. For your next 3 breaths, imagine your breath filling your whole chest.

Each time you exhale, count backwards from 3 as you and feel the breath leaving your stomach, ribs, and chest.

Find your own peace in life

#3 Smiling 

We know this might sound a bit strange as smiling might be the last thing on your mind when your stressed – but it works.

Smiling releases endorphins which tricks your mind into feeling happier. It will also make you focus on maintaining the smile which can distract you from the thing that’s making you upset.

Concept of well-being, well done, feedback, employee recognition award. Happy yellow smiling emoticon face frame hanging on blue background with empty space for text.

#4 Light as a feather

Imagine that you have a string attached to the top of your head which is gently lifting you upwards. Use all of your energy to focus on the feeling that you’re slowly becoming light as a feather.

This technique will help you adjust your posture and carry yourself in a more relaxed way – it’s much easier to feel calm when you’re walking/sitting upright rather than hunched over.

abstract solf white feathers floating in the air

#5 Picture Postcard

Scroll through your holiday snaps or images online until you come across a place that makes you feel calm. Close your eyes and concentrate on imagining that you’re there. Paint a vivid picture in your mind, as if you’ve just walked into a postcard.

What do you see and hear? Is there a distinct smell? Can you feel a breeze in the air? Use all your brainpower to conjure up these things and envelope yourself in your own little oasis of calm.

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan at Sunrise, New York City

Remember, there is no ‘right way’ to meditate. If you’ve taken the time to focus on your mental wellbeing, you’re already on the right track.


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Posted on July 3, 2020