How to Relax Your Mind to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

High-anxiety situations can create racing thoughts that stick with you for hours, or even days. These thoughts and worries can make it difficult to enjoy what’s around you and focus on what’s in front of you. You do not, however, have to let these thoughts control you. There are many methods you can use to relax your mind. Try some of these out to see what works best for you.

Methods to Relax Your Mind

Have a Calming Meal
Food is a great way to reach a state of relaxation. One of the best ways to relax is with a cup of tea. Many herbal blends were created specifically to help you destress and find a state of calm. Chamomile, Linden, Valerian, and green tea are some of the best blends when you need a cup of relaxation. Substitute honey out for your sugar to benefit from its anti-inflammatory effects, which in turn can help reduce depression and anxiety.

Chocolate is also a great way to deal with your racing thoughts. A few ounces of dark chocolate will reduce the levels of cortisol and epinephrine in the body after a particularly stressful event. These hormones are known as stress hormones, and when left unchecked, can create health problems like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, weight gain and memory impairment

Meditate
One of the most effective ways to relax your mind is by using meditation. Many people think of meditation as a quest for transcendence or some other high-minded philosophical or spiritual pursuit, but meditation is really whatever you want it to be. Any quiet introspection with a focus on mindfulness can be beneficial to anyone.
The type of meditation that will be best for you will depend on your needs. You’ll likely want to find a meditation that is designed to help reduce stress.

  • Breathing meditations are great because they can be done in any circumstance, and don’t require you to find a new area to practice in. If you haven’t done breathing meditations before, practicing deep breathing is a great way to reduce your anxiety and help you become more relaxed. Simply breath in deeply through your nose, and exhale through your mouth until you begin to feel more relaxed.
  • Yoga creates a connection between your mind and body by utilizing poses, meditation, and breathing techniques. Moving your body with the intent of relaxing can help you burn off some of the stress that tends to build up during your daily routine. Yoga practices designed for rest and relaxation can help reduce the amount of mind chatter that often comes with stressful thinking patterns.
  • Finally, guided visualization meditations are a great way to bring your mind to a state of relaxation. This technique uses auditory cues to help the brain visualize peaceful environments, or reach a goal. Many of these meditations are created by those who have experience in the field, and take the stress off of you to know what to do. Most of these meditations are done in person, or are offered in a YouTube video. These meditations encourage imagination, and oftentimes try to speak to the subconscious in order to promote relaxation.

Acupressure
Acupressure is an ancient Chinese therapy technique which involves using pressure points to unblock life energy, or for the less spiritually minded, working tension out of commonly tense parts of the body. This energy release encourages relaxation and a state of calm. The great thing about acupressure is that you don’t have to rely on someone else to start using beneficial techniques. However, if you don’t want to perform it on yourself, there are many trained practitioners who will do their best to bring you some sort of relief. If you want to try acupressure on your own, there are several pressure points that help reduce anxiety and encourage a state of calm. You can use hand pressure points in almost any situation to relax yourself in minutes.

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There are two pressure points on the hand that help promote a state of calm. The first one is three fingers down from the top of your wrist. Use your thumb and apply pressure until you feel a little bit of discomfort, but don’t cause pain. Hold for two minutes and apply on both wrists. The second is where your wrist creates a crease with your hand. Hold this for 2 minutes, and apply a good amount of pressure.

Massage
Similar to acupressure, getting a massage is a great way to relax after a stressful week. Massage therapy has many health benefits on top of reducing stress and anxiety. It helps flush the body of toxins and releases tension in muscles. Many people carry stress in specific areas of their bodies, like the back, neck or shoulders. Massage techniques can also decrease cortisol and other stress hormones that build up when our brains receive constant fight or flight signals from everyday stresses. This signals to the brain that it’s time to rest and recharge. Most massage studios strive to create a relaxing environment, with calming music and dimmed lights to help their clients relax more fully.

Tactile Sensations
If you’re stressed or anxious, chances are good that you’re caught up in your own head. Thoughts of the bills coming due, or future deadlines at work take you out of the present moment. Using tactile sensations to bring you to the present moment is a great way to ground yourself and bring yourself back to the here and now. Connecting to how your body feels right now helps calm your nervous system.  You can connect to the sensations in your hands, feet, or head and pay attention to the tactile information you are receiving. Do you feel a breeze? Are there different surfaces you can touch to provide a contrast? These differing sensations are a good way to force yourself to focus on what’s directly around you, instead of the sources of stress you were thinking about before.

Change Your Environment

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Sometimes the biggest source of stress can be the environment you are in. If your immediate environment is a mess, chances are good that it is contributing to your stress in some way. Clutter can distract you from the things that need your attention, and give you more things to worry about. If you find yourself in a mess, take a bit of time to clean up. Or if you aren’t able to, go to a different place. Getting outside is a great way to change your environment and reduce stress. Increasing your vitamin D by being out in the sun is a great way to lift your mood.

Exercise
Exercise provides a reliable and healthy way to burn up some of the anxious energy that might have collected in your mind and body. Moving around makes it possible for you to release the tensions and stress you’re carrying.  Studies show that exercise helps increase mental function and creates endorphins to perk up your mood. It is also an incredibly effective anxiety treatment, and can be as effective as medication. Something as simple as a 10 minute walk can be an effective way to kick anxiety to the curb.

For each worry and anxious thought, there’s a method to work out your anxiety and stress. Try out one or more of these methods the next time you feel your mind overwhelmed with racing thoughts and stress.

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Spire is dedicated to helping you live a happier, healthier lifestyle with an easy-to-use device for mindful breathing techniques. Learn more about the benefits of breath-tracking at Spire.io.

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