A-Z of relaxation

A/

Acupuncture involves inserting fine sterile needles into pressure points on your body. Research shows that it can help with generalised anxiety.

ASMR or autonomous sensory meridian response is the strange sensation you get from watching or doing something really mundane, such as stirring a bowl of soup, whispering or crackling paper. Some people find it deeply relaxing and soporific. 

Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy that uses aroma or essential oils to improve emotional well-being.

B/

Breathing exercises involve taking long, slow, deep breaths while disengaging the mind from distracting thoughts. Deep breathing can work wonders quickly.

Biofeedback is a managed process involving sensory feedback to gain control over certain bodily functions like heart rate or blood pressure. It's used as a way of gaining physical control of stress and anxiety.

 

C/
Candles or an open fire with a flickering flame are soothing for the soul, helping to calm you down and relax your mind.

D/

Decompress with a warm wrap around your neck and shoulders or try a hot water bottle. Close your eyes and relax.

Digital downtime means putting away the phone. Most of us are on our phones continuously and it takes its toll. Create time during the day for pure unadulterated silence.

E/

Ear massage is a great way to wind down. Massage the upper shell of the ear at the tip of the triangle-like hollow. Then rub, press and roll the ear cartilage and lobe. It's surprising how quickly it works. 

F/
Friends and meaningful human connection help us to cope better. Share your stories and get a fresh perspective from others. Stay social.

Forest bathing or shinrin yoku is practised in Japan. It involves spending time in the forest taking in the aroma of trees and pine. It's said to lower cortisol levels and boost immunity.

G/

Guided imagery is a technique where you conjure up soothing scenes and experiences, reinforcing positive visions of yourself. There are a range of Apps to help you. 

H/
Hydrotherapy is the use of water for therapeutic effect. It might involve hot baths, cold showers or plunge pools. You could try wild swimming in lakes and rivers or simply jump into a hot tub.

Hobbies are a great way of developing new skills and a sense of purpose. How about learning a language or pottery?

I/

Imagination is all about divergent, free-roaming thinking. Take up a creative pursuit like writing, painting or dancing. 

J/

Jigsaw puzzles are so good for relaxation. Puzzling over the pieces improves your short term memory and puts your brain in a meditative state.

L/
Laugh out loud. A good belly laugh helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and boost endorphins, which help with your mood. That's why funny films and comedies are such great mood boosters.

M/
Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you bring your focus to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or future. Check out the Apps and YouTube videos.

Music can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, helping you feel less anxious. Try something soothing and calm or go for the upbeat and hi-tempo, both can work. Check out individual or group music therapy. sessions.

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N/

Nap in the afternoon. That extra 10-20 minutes of shut-eye will help restore your alertness.

O/

Outdoors in the open air? Spending just 20 minutes outside gives your brain an energy boost, as well as your immune system.

P/

Progressive muscle relation (PMR) is a technique where you work through each muscle group in a sequence, tensing and relaxing each one as you go, while breathing deeply.

Positive thinking is a technique to help improve confidence. Say to yourself: "I can do this", "I am valuable". Being positive and optimistic is a key part of effective stress management.

Pets are a beautiful distraction and can give you unconditional friendship. They crave routine which might help too.

Q/

Qigong means breathing of air.  It's an ancient mind-body-spirit practice that combines deep breathing, meditation, visualisation and movement. It's said to help improve mental resilience, while reducing anxiety and depression.

R/

Read a book and get sucked into a great story. 

Reiki is an energy healing therapy from Japan that can promote relaxation and reduce stress. 
Reflexology is based on the principle that different parts of your hands and feet are linked to your body through the nervous system. A therapist will apply pressure to relieve tension and improve your mood.

S/
Shiatsu is sometimes called acupressure. Here the therapist uses their fingers on certain pressure points around the body. Great for releasing energy and inducing calm.

Slime offers lots of tactile fun. Playing with slime is a great distraction from everyday worries.

Sounds can induce calm. Listening to the sea or rain on a window are popular ways to relax. 

T/
Tai chi is an ancient 
martial art from China that combines deep breathing and flowing movements. It's said to help reduce stress, improve mobility and posture.

Therapeutic massage is great at treating muscle aches and pains, as well as mental and emotional problems including anxiety. 

Transcendental meditation is a popular way of meditating with the help of mantras to influence a positive mind state. 

U/

Ultraviolet light from the sun is great for jet lag and good for anxiety too. Research shows natural sunlight has a restorative effect on people suffering from stress.


V/

Visualisation is the practice of changing your thoughts by creating pictures of what you want in your life. There are a variety of techniques to do this and you can explore these on Apps, YouTube or with a life coach.

W/
Walking for 20 minutes outdoors can ease anxiety and relieve stress.

Waon therapy is essentially about sitting in a sauna and being soothed by the warmth. Try the sauna at your gym.

Y/
Yoga combines rhythmic breathing with a series of postures and movements that will enhance your flexibility and balance.

Z/
Zen is a Buddhist meditation practice over 1,500 years old. Research shows the approach has very real mental and physical health benefits.