The phone in the office just never stops ringing. Person after person knocks on your door needing assistance. And the tasks you have to do today keep piling up. You accelerate to get everything checked off in time, jet home, and then just want to fall into bed. But falling asleep used to be a lot easier, too, because countless thoughts are buzzing through your head and keeping you awake. You just can't switch from work to relaxation mode anymore.
Faster than you can say "vicious circle", you are already in one. Poor sleep costs you the ability to perform and concentrate. This only increases your stress. So what can you do about it? Don't worry, rescue is at hand - in the form of relaxation exercises. But what does relaxation actually mean?
Everyone defines this term differently. For some, sport is relaxation, for others it is pure stress. Others find meditation the best way to switch off and sort out their thoughts, while for others it's almost torture because they simply can't sit still. Luckily, there are countless ways to really relax. The important thing is that they work for you personally and can be easily integrated into your everyday life.
How relaxation exercises affect your body
Relaxation exercises are supposed to help you relax, that's pretty self-explanatory. But let's go a little more in depth and look at what exactly it can do for you. Relaxation exercises aim to reduce the tension that is on your body and also on your mind. You can use them specifically in stressful situations to briefly recharge your batteries, or you can do them on a daily basis to reduce your general stress level.
So you actively contribute to the preservation of your mental health, which also has a positive effect on your physical well-being. How does it work? Relaxation exercises help you to reduce the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Evolutionarily, these hormones prepare you for flight or fight, which is why they speed up your breathing and heartbeat. But if this is the case permanently, it affects your health.
With relaxation exercises you can bring your blood pressure and breathing back into a healthy rhythm. Not entirely innocent of this are also the alpha waves, quite slow brain waves, which you can promote with relaxation exercises. They allow you to calm down and mark a relaxed state of wakefulness.
You can easily integrate these 10 simple relaxation exercises into your everyday life.
We all know phases in which we are almost permanently under stress. But there is one thing you must never forget: your health! Take care of your mind and body and don't let stress consume you. Take at least five minutes every day to do one or two relaxation exercises.
We all have those five minutes left, guaranteed. The only question is how you use them. If you invest them in stress reduction, you will benefit in several ways. You'll get your jumbled thoughts in order, your sleep will be more restful, your ability to concentrate will increase and, as a result, you'll even become more productive.
Little by little you will reduce your stress level. And that's exactly what we want to help you with! That's why we've put together ten relaxation exercises for you that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life. There's sure to be something suitable for you here too!
1. autogenic training
In autogenic training you use the power of your thoughts to relax your body and thus your mind step by step. You put yourself into a kind of trance in which you consciously perceive your body and free it from all its tension. It works like this, for example:
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Say to yourself, "I am coming to rest."
- Focus on your legs and say, "My legs are relaxing and getting heavy."
- Continue with the arms. Say: "My arms relax and become heavy."
- In between, keep repeating, "I am coming to rest."
- The focus is then on your heartbeat. Listen to it for a moment and say, "My heartbeat is calm and rhythmic."
- After that, listen to your breath and say, "I am breathing deeply, calmly and rhythmically."
- Gradually focus on each region of your body and continue to follow this pattern.
- Finally, wake yourself from the trance by saying, "My limbs become light again, I listen to my surroundings and open my eyes."
2. progressive muscle relaxation
Surely you know this too: stress not only puts your thoughts in turmoil, but also has an effect on your body. Headaches and tension in the neck and shoulders send their regards. This is where progressive muscle relaxation can help you. The whole thing is based on the assumption of the American psychologist Edmund Jacobson that physical relaxation can also calm your thoughts.
For him it was already clear in the 1920s that physical and mental health are closely connected. He therefore developed a method in which individual muscles or muscle groups are specifically tensed and relaxed again. The result was progressive muscle relaxation. Just give it a try!
- Sit up straight and let your arms hang down at the sides of your body.
- Clench your hands tightly into fists and relax them again.
- Pull your shoulders up, hold the position briefly and let them hang loosely down again.
- Then stretch your arms, actively tense your arm muscles and release again.
- Then build up tension in your abdomen and relax it again after a few seconds.
- Do the same with your glutes, the muscles in your thighs and your calves.
- Feel how each of your muscles feels pleasantly warm and relaxed, pause in the moment for a moment and then start again full of energy.
3. journey of thoughts
For this relaxation exercise you need some outside help. Enlist the help of a second person or turn on some appropriate music or video that will take you on a mental journey. This is a guided exercise that can even put you in a meditative state, as long as you fully engage with it.
The thought journey harnesses your imagination and helps you develop new perspectives based on your feelings and thoughts. At the same time, this exercise enhances your creativity. Basically, you can think of the thought journey as a waking dream. Feel free to use the following instructions:
- Close your eyes and listen to your breath for a few seconds.
- Visualize it as a gentle breeze blowing across a wide meadow.
- Take a closer look at the meadow and see all the little blades of grass and the tiny insects that live in between.
- Breathe in the scent of the grasses and flowers and feel the warm rays of the sun on your skin.
- Walk a few meters across the meadow towards the sun and feel the gentle breeze in your hair.
- You see a small bench and take a seat on it.
- Feel the smooth wood of the bench and take in its scent.
- The bench stands next to a majestic oak tree that gives you shade and provides you with such clean air as you have never experienced before.
- Take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and slowly come back to the here and now.
4. relaxation for the eyes
Everyone who works a lot at the PC or has to deal with documents and files knows it for sure: At the end of the day, the eyes burn, the view into the distance is blurred and headaches are part of everyday life anyway. Then relaxation for the eyes comes at the right time.
You need to know this: Not only the bright light of the PC strains your eyes, but also the permanent look at near things. There are several ways to relax your eyes. We've combined a few to give you comprehensive relief:
- Close your eyes, place your thumb and index finger at the sides of your nose and apply gentle pressure.
- Then place your index finger between your eyebrows and apply light pressure here as well.
- Then circle your eyes with your index and middle fingers and make small circular movements, like a massage.
- Then open your eyes again and look out the window. Focus on things in the distance and observe them for a moment.
- Avoid looking at the sun and focus on things that are in the shade so that you don't strain your eyes too much with additional bright light.
5. smile into the room
Just smiling into space sounds totally stupid to you? Maybe, but it helps you trick your brain. Even if you just don't have a reason to smile because you're so stressed, pull up the corners of your mouth anyway. It doesn't matter if you mean the smile or not, because the effect it has on your brain is the same.
The muscles you need for that signal to your brain that something makes you happy. Regardless of whether that's really true or not. As a result, it releases happy hormones, which are the perfect stress killers. After just a few minutes, you're more relaxed, feel more confident in what you're doing, and can focus better on your tasks. As a result, you'll check them off even faster and you can look back with satisfaction on today's workday and everything you've accomplished.
6. 4-6-8 breathing
We've already mentioned it - stress makes your breathing faster and shallower. You can counteract this with targeted exercises. What sounds incredibly simple is also incredibly effective. The 4-6-8 breathing is probably the best known breathing exercise. You can even do it in the middle of a meeting without anyone noticing. Here's how:
- Sit up straight and place your flat hand on your stomach.
- Take a few breaths in your current rhythm.
- Then breathe into your belly through your nose for four seconds, making sure your chest doesn't rise.
- Hold your breath six seconds.
- Open your mouth very slightly and exhale through it for eight seconds.
- Repeat five times and just breathe your stress away.
7. sun salutation of the yogis
Anyone who has ever taken a yoga class knows it - the sun salutation. This relaxation exercise can become your new lunch break ritual. The point here - as with yoga in general - is to bring body and mind into harmony.
- Stand up straight and clasp your hands together in front of your torso.
- Inhale deeply, pushing your arms up over your head as you do so.
- Tighten your back and gluteal muscles, exhale and bend straight forward.
- Open your hands and clasp your legs.
- Inhale again, place your right leg back and bring your arms up in front of your body.
- Hold this position briefly, place your right leg next to your left again, slowly lower your arms and repeat with your left leg.
8. walk mindfully
Are walks pure relaxation for you? Then mindful walking is exactly the right thing for you. You don't necessarily have to go for a walk. The way to work or the walk through the hallway can also become an experience of mindfulness - like this:
- Consciously put one foot in front of the other and feel the surface under your feet. Is it hard, particularly soft, uneven or slippery?
- Focus exactly on the process your body is going through.
- Pay attention to the tension in your legs, the lifting and lowering of your feet, and the rolling.
Mantras are closely related to meditation, but you can also incorporate them into your everyday life on your own. Whenever stress really gets the better of you, speak your personal mantra, which gives you strength, gives you new motivation and raises your optimism.
The mantra should suit you and your current situation. Say it in a quiet place where you can fully concentrate on your words, repeat it several times and listen carefully to what you are saying. Here are a few examples:
- I am relaxed and calm.
- I am focused and don't get distracted.
- I am happy.
- I'm doing a good job and I can do this.
- I'll solve any problem.
10. stress reduction
Stress release is about actively shaking off all the tension and jumbled thoughts from your body. Imagine how the stress sticks to your body and how you let it fall away from you with this exercise. It goes like this:
- Stand loosely but erect and raise your dominant arm.
- Imagine the stress clinging to you moving up into your hand and forearm.
- Drop your arm down quickly with a sigh, as if you were about to punch an invisible box.
- Repeat this with your other arm and finally again with both.
- As you do this, keep visualizing yourself shaking off the stress and thoughts that keep you up at night.
By the way: Valuable tips on how you can finally let go of your thoughts and give your mind the relaxation it deserves are provided by Dr. Karolien Notebaert in this video.
This way you can recognize stress early and act in time
It never hurts to integrate relaxation exercises into your daily routine. But at the latest when you are acutely under stress, it is high time. But this is exactly where the problem lies: With so much stress, we often don't even realize how pronounced it actually is, because we simply ignore the signals of our body.
We have put together a few points for you that you should pay attention to regularly. They will help you to realise early on that there is a clear need for relaxation exercises.
- You're easily irritated and overwhelmed.
- You're having a hard time concentrating.
- You need much more time than usual to complete certain tasks.
- You see the bad side first.
- You're afraid of failing.
- You have a hard time motivating yourself.
- Your thoughts just won't rest.
- You don't sleep well.
- Even after work, all you ever think about is work.
- Headaches are a daily occurrence.
- Your eyes burn and your eyelids twitch.
- Your back hurts, shoulders and neck are tense.
- You're breathing faster and shallower than usual.
- Your blood pressure's slightly elevated.
- Pains, the triggers of which you cannot explain, occur and you become ill more quickly.
Greator Coach Training: Decide now for a more relaxed life
By the way, learning again to listen to your body, to perceive the signals, is an important part of our Greator Coach Training. How do you feel when you know you have an important meeting tomorrow? Does the tension in your back become noticeable, do you get a stomach ache or does your throat tighten? Listen to yourself in these moments. It's like running a scanner over your body.
In our Greator coach training we give you important tools to get access to yourself again. We show you how to give yourself and your body more mindfulness and gratitude. Be curious about an inspiring journey to yourself - to more inner peace and clarity. Are you ready and come with us? Then register here now!