Stress Management: Stress has become a common phenomenon in today’s life. These days, everyone you meet has some level of stress – be it a young student, a fresh graduate on the lookout for a job, a businessman, an executive, or even a housewife. It is a curse of the modern age and it is impossible to turn the clock back to the relaxed, tension-free atmosphere that our forefathers enjoyed. A certain amount of stress is permissible as it can stimulate the body and result in improved performance but excess stress, when left unattended, can result in high levels of physical and mental illnesses that might lead to prolonged medical treatments.
Simple Relaxation Techniques For Stress Management
Listed below are some tried and tested techniques that have helped to overcome stress –
- Tai Chi
- Meditation and Visualization
- Transcendental Meditation (TM)
- The Alexander Technique
1. Tai chi
Originally a martial art in the boxing style that is basically defensive in nature but based on the Taoist principles of yielding. Over the years, T’ai chi has evolved into a gentle form of exercise that helps in totally relax the body and, through movement and meditation, allows the individual to seek self-perfection through practice. People who practice this gentle exercise swear by its ability to reduce stress levels and tension. There are numerous health benefits of tai chi.
The Yoga word means ‘union’ in Sanskrit. When practised, it unites the body, mind, and soul into a balanced whole. Also a slow and gentle form of exercise, yoga imparts energy to the individual. The beauty of this form of exercise is that it can be totally customized to suit the person’s medical condition. A combination of ‘asanas’ with deep breathing and meditation followed by the final relaxation pose ‘Shavasana’ helps to produce a physiological and mental calm that is conducive to complete healing. India is the ultimate seat of yoga, there are many yoga man dreams that teach this technique.
Also Read: Benefits, Purpose, and Precautions of Yoga
This is a Japanese technique and is over 1000 years old. It is basically a form of massage that combines gentle manipulation and body movement with finger and hand pressure. Here again, the goal is to balance the body’s energy. This Japanese technique is based on the belief that stress causes the blockage of the body’s energy channels situated in different layers. A trained practitioner can identify the channels closest to the surface of the body and use the technique to release stress.
4. Meditation and Visualisation
Concentration is the keyword in meditation. It is a form of ‘letting go’ by sitting in a comfortable and secure place without any distractions and slowly willing emotional and physical suffering to go away. Visualization is also a form of meditation, the difference being that it is a directed meditation. By a method of directed relaxation, the stress levels are reduced and attitudes to stress-inducing situations changed. In addition to actually reducing stress, this technique can channel the stress into resulting in positive performance. This technique is generally practised by sports persons who go through high levels of stress.
Also Read: Yoga and Meditation For Women
5. Transcendental Meditation (TM)
A form of meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s, this technique also uses the same approach of simply ‘letting go. An expert commenting on this technique says that by practising this meditation, the mind learns to go beyond the noise of thought to a region that is silent, peaceful and whole. It transcends sickness to find health. In this purely mechanical technique, when practised for just 20 minutes every morning, one sits quietly in a chair with eyes closed, using, as instructed, a special word called a ‘mantra’ selected not for its meaning but strictly for its sound. That sound alone attracts the mind and leads it, effortlessly and naturally, to a slightly subtler level of the thinking process. Many corporates have regular TM sessions to relax their executives and help them perform better.
6. The Alexander Technique
This is a lesser-known technique that was introduced in the late 19th century by Frederick Mathias Alexander and is generally practised by actors and dancers. It is known to cure stress-related ailments including hypertension, ulcers, and even dysmenorrheal, and is very popular abroad. In this, important parts of the body are ‘adjusted’ to release tension – for eg. the area where the neck and body meet is gently manipulated and immediate relief is felt. There are professionally trained instructors in the Alexander Technique abroad who are in great demand.
This technique is based on the stimulus-response principle and uses the stimulation of specific reflex points in one part of the body to produce a reflex response in another part. Reflexology is equally beneficial when administered by yourself or by someone else. Foot reflexology is the most commonly practised, but it may also be performed on the hands and ears.