Relaxation Techniques for a healthy lifestyle

Many times, we get overwhelmed with work and our surroundings; so much that we forget that relaxing is an important aspect of our wellbeing. Stressing is inevitable, we don’t plan to stress, and we probably do need a bit of stress to push us out of our comfort zone every once in a while, but stressing is not something you want to do regularly. Stressing can cause lack of sleep, mood swings, anxiety, tension and anger, emotional and mental instability… etc.

Relaxation in psychology is the emotional state of a living being, of low tension, in which there is an absence of arousal that could come from sources like anger, anxiety or fear. When you are relaxed, your body and mind is free from tension and anxiety.

Relaxation can help to elevate your mood, to reduce insomnia or sleep disorders, mood swings and anxiety. It can help with clarity and an open mind when making decisions. Relaxation helps to control blood rate, heart rate and respiration. It reduces muscle tension and boosts physical wellbeing. Generally, finding a relaxation technique that works for you can help you perform better at home, in your relationship with people and at work – physically, emotionally and mentally.

Relaxation can be achieved through different techniques; physically, mentally or by therapeutic techniques. Because stress levels differ among people and we handle it differently, these are some of the relaxation techniques which have proven to reduce stress for various people:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

This is a Physical relaxation technique which requires focusing on a set of muscles and slowly relaxing them from top to bottom, until you feel a deep sense of relaxation. This relaxation technique is an adaptation of the Jacobsonian relaxation technique, which was developed in the 1920s.

Progressive muscle relaxation is used both in and out of the clinic settings. It is used to reduce stress and its effects such as: fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and mood swings. The long term goal of the progressive muscle relaxation technique is to be able to tell when your muscles are beginning to feel the effects of stress, and to be able to relax that muscle.


Massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues for the treatment of body pain or stress. Massages are usually applied with the hands, fingers, feet, forearms, elbows, knees or even a device. Professionals in this field are usually known as a masseur (M) or a masseuse (F). The benefits of massage include reduced blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety, stress, pain, tension and depression. Massage increases blood flow and helps the body to function better. Massage helps you sleep better, think better and make better decisions, more calmly. Learn more about massage therapy.

Breathing Techniques:

These are one of the quickest and easiest ways to deal with stress and anxiety; they do not require much effort and can be done anywhere and anytime. Breathing techniques have proven to reduce the physical symptoms of stress, which include fear, confusion, anxiety, depression, hypertension, nervousness, anger, as well as shortage of breath.


Meditation is one of the relaxation techniques which Africans are now adapting to and it is quickly gaining attention. Meditation has been a major stress relief/relaxation technique in most countries, especially in Asia. Meditations are beneficial to our physical, mental and emotional health. Studies have shown that people, who practice meditation consistently, pay fewer visits to doctors for emotional, physical and mental illness, than people who don’t.

Meditation helps to boost the immune response, concentration, attention and decision making. It reduces the heart and breathing rate, muscle tension and blood pressure, thereby calming the brain and its activities. Meditation technique simply requires a very comfortable position, a peaceful and quite environment, a positive attitude to avoid getting angry and giving up over unsuccessful attempts, and a mental device to help keep the focus constant (meditation sounds).


Therapeutic Relaxation Techniques:

Therapeutic relaxation techniques can be done alongside other relaxation techniques or on their own. In some cases, professionals in psychology or mental health and fitness may recommend a number of these techniques, or prescribe medications to aid relaxation when necessary. Most of these techniques are simple and can be performed almost anywhere and anytime. Therapeutic relaxation techniques include writing (writing down how you feel can help you feel more relaxed), Using guided imagery (Imagining yourself in a positive situations can help you feel calm and relaxed, having a warm bath or listening to soothing music. Taking a walk, sitting by the waterside, talking to someone you trust, having a glass of tea or milk or even the strange idea of talking to one’s self can be very therapeutic.