Tell me if this sounds familiar. You reach the end of a long, stressful day and finally get to relax in front of the TV. But when you go to bed, your mind’s still racing and your body’s keyed up. That blue light from the screen—and most shows—is stimulating. So your body never actually gets to relax.
To reduce the toxic effects of chronic stress, and actually relax, you’ve got to elicit your body’s relaxation response. This restful state slows your breathing and heart rate, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure.
But what relaxes you may differ from what relaxes somebody else, so it pays to try different techniques. Here are some of my favorites.
World’s Most Relaxing Song
Dubbed the “world’s most relaxing song,” Weightless by Marconi Union was engineered to be relaxing. Collaborating with sound therapists, the musicians chose non-repeating melodies that let the brain switch off and an underlying beat that slows from 60 beats per minute to 50 over eight minutes, letting your heart entrain and slow down.
Learn more and listen here.
Relaxing Acupressure Points
Acupressure involves massaging specific points along energy meridians. Several of these can relieve stress. I rub central points on the soles of my feet whenever I need to draw energy out of my head and calm down. And the point between my eyebrows really helps with anxiety (and draining my sinuses!).
For simple guidance with diagrams, see this post.
Restorative Yoga: Legs-up-the-Wall
Yoga offers several wonderful poses for relaxing and restoring mind and body. One of my favorites is legs-up-the-wall pose. I often do this to relax and relieve back tension. It’s also great to do right before bed, as it can leave you feeling deeply still and sleepy.
To learn this and other restorative poses, see this article.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
Long revered by yoga practitioners, alternate nostril breathing is a great way to relax and reduce stress. This simple breathing technique helps calm the nervous system and balance the mind and emotions. I use it to settle my mind before morning meditation. But it’s also a good sleep aid, helping ease stress and anxiety.
See this article to learn it.
And if you missed them, here’s a look back at some of my past articles offering more techniques:
- Resourcing: Relax with enjoyable resources.
- Jin Shin: Relieve worry with this finger technique.
- Cocooning: Create a sensory cocoon.
- Nature videos: Watch with sound off.
- Belly breathing: Breathe to relax.
When a technique’s working, your body will slowly shift into rest-and-digest. So, if you feel relaxed or your tummy starts gurgling…you’ve got a winner.