How to relax: 3 exercises to help you calm down

How to relax

If you feel like you’re always too busy, try relaxation techniques to help you cope with stress. These exercises can release tension, give your body and mind a dose of Zen and reduce anxiety.

Relaxation is different for everyone

Everyone relaxes differently. Some love to spend hours sitting on a chair staring at a fishing bobber in the water, others relax while having a chitchat with their friends.

Perhaps you like to dig in the dirt of your vegetable garden, play with your children and give them all your attention or take a nice warm bath.

You should take the time for those hobbies and experience the pleasant moments. However, if you’re busy these (oh, so important) moments can fall by the wayside. Nevertheless, it is important to include these moments in your daily schedule.

Even if it’s only a short moment to cuddle with your little one (or your pet!).

When it all gets too much. How to relax?

Sometimes it all gets a little too much. And at that moment you may want to spend an hour in your vegetable garden, but it’s just not possible. You’re too much in your head, you’re pondering too much and you’re just not able to enjoy the here and now (or even make time for it).

So what to do then? It's time to bring out the big guns! In other words: relaxation techniques that will instantly help you reduce stress and find some peace of mind. Below are 3 relaxation techniques that only take a few minutes.

Exercise 1: Mindfulness exercise the ‘body scan’

At the top of the list is the body scan. You've probably heard of it before. This is a well-known mindfulness exercise that certainly belongs in our list of relaxation techniques. The body scan really helps to bring your attention to the ‘here and now’ by focusing on feeling your own body.

You can do this exercise while sitting or lying down. I recommend doing it while lying down so you can really release all the tension from your muscles.

Find a quiet place where you can lie down undisturbed. Get into a comfortable position and close your eyes. First, focus on your breathing. Try to breathe deeply and calmly using your stomach. Placing a hand on your stomach can help stimulate this way of breathing.

Next, shift your breath to the rest of your body. Start with your toes and go all the way up to your crown. Feel your feet as they rest on the ground. How do they feel? Are they tingling or feeling a bit warm? Try to breathe down into your feet. Feel your ankles, your calves, your knees. Are you experiencing any pain? Continue this practice by gradually moving up.

This exercise is so powerful, we’ve included it in the Meditation Moments app.

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Exercise 2: One-minute meditation

Experience how powerful 60 seconds can be with this exercise! Great when you’re feeling stressed out or you’ve been on the go all day.

The biggest advantage? You can do this mini meditation anywhere. You always have a moment to spare when you’re not doing anything:

  • Waiting for a file to download.
  • In your doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room.
  • Waiting for the bus or the train.
  • At the hairdresser’s.
  • Waiting for the water to boil while you’re cooking
  • In the bathroom.

You got the gist of it: there are simply no more excuses for not doing it. ;)

All you need is 1 minute of your time. We suggest you use a timer so you can relax without having to keep track of time.

Sit down and place both feet ‘firmly’ on the ground. Rest your palms on your thighs and close your eyes. Breathe in and out and keep focusing your attention on your breath for the next minute.
If you have more time to spare, try the other meditations in the app. The shortest one is a 3-minute version.

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Exercise 3: Focus on a positive affirmation

The last in our list of relaxation techniques has to do with influencing your subconscious mind. An affirmation is a phrase that helps you feel calmer, more positive, or more powerful. Some also call it a mantra.

You’ve probably practiced positive self-talk before, like right before you went on stage or before that important conversation with someone. ‘You can do it.’ ‘Come on, just do it.’ ‘Everything is going to be fine.’

By saying it to yourself over and over again, your brain will eventually come to believe it. If you tell yourself every day that you are ugly, you will start feeling ugly. But if you tell yourself every day that you are incredibly beautiful, sweet and powerful ...

To do this exercise, choose a powerful phrase that makes you feel good. For example, ‘I feel relaxed’, ‘I have all the time in the world’ or ‘everything is fine just the way it is’. Next time you’re not feeling so well, repeat this phrase to yourself.

Tip: write down your affirmation and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day so it will really get into your ‘system’.

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