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Had a hard day? Not really feeling quite like yourself? Do you feel stressed? You need to relax. Good old R&R isn't just for the weekends and holidays anymore. More and more people are turning to relaxation techniques to make their daily lives more bearable. Relaxation techniques are quite beneficial, because they can decrease stress, improve your frame of mind, and even decrease blood pressure. Simple breathing exercises have been known to reduce blood pressure by as much as five points in just a few minutes. Relaxation techniques can also help you to sleep better- more soundly- and fall asleep with fewer problems.
There are many ways to relax, both alone and with another. A very common one is deep breathing exercises. In increments of thirty seconds, just sit back and let your body relax, then inhale deeply and exhale completely. Repeat this exercise as many times as you like and until you feel more relaxed.
Another technique that may seem somewhat strange to some is meditation. Meditation is not necessarily the cross-legged, "leave your body" experience that it has been stereotyped as. Most often, this is best done in a darkened room, lying down. Simply close your eyes and think of something that you like- something happy, something relaxing. Then, once you've found a thought, try to expand on it. Think about it and think about whatever else comes to mind. Try to picture yourself acting out whatever you are thinking- a daydream, if you will.
Often times, hobbies are a good way to relax. Reading a book is a very quiet activity, and when listening to soft music (classical is a wonderful example), it can be very soothing. Several sports, such as golf, boxing, or even swimming can be a wonderful way to vent frustrations, whether you're taking it out on a ball, a punching bag, or even trying to be just a little faster.
One of the most infamous relaxation techniques is massage. Done professionally or by the amateur masseur, it's a great way to relax with two or more people. Many communities have classes on beginning massage and many community colleges offer more in depth classes, but it doesn't necessarily take training to give a good massage. Simply start by having the individual lay on the floor, face down to start. Be sure to use slow, firm strokes and keep the strokes flowing. Too much stopping or breaking the flow isn't very effective. All movements should be as one fluid movement. Start by rubbing the neck and shoulders and move slowly downward. Always pay special attention to especially tense regions. Always avoid tickling, or grabbing and squeezing too hard, as it will create tension rather than eliminate it. Bodies have specific pressure points that can be used to relieve tension in other areas. For example, just between the thumb and index finger is a spot that, when rubbed in a circular motion, can get rid of headaches. The feet are notorious for just such spots.
Along with the relaxation techniques come the "tools of the trade", so to speak. They're simply items that enhance relaxation, either directly or indirectly. Candles are a good example. Aromatherapy candles have been known to aid in the relief of tension, though lightly scented votive candles, which are just pleasant smelling, may achieve the same thing. Candles also do wonders for mood lighting by creating a soft, relaxing glow.
Another example is massage oil. These lightly scented mineral oils aid in making the hands flow smoothly and create less friction on the skin. Many of them also have beneficial effects on skin. Other tools such as masks can be frozen to reduce eye puffiness, and alleviate tension or sinus headaches. Pads that can be microwaved or plugged in can be used to loosen stiff muscles, as can a long hot bath. Recently, companies have begun manufacturing chair covers that vibrate and heat up to target pressure points and loosen tense muscles.
With so many easy ways to relax, why bother being so tense? Just relax, and say Ahhhh!