The hectic life we ​​lead subjects us to a high rate of stress, which tends to wear us out internally and physically. Between work and commitments of various kinds, it is easy to cross the line and lose balance, to the detriment of well-being. 

But promoting relaxation and optimizing stress management is not unfeasible, in fact there are some famous techniques that help us better manage our thoughts and let go of the superfluous.

From autogenic training, a relaxation technique already widely tested since it dates back to 1932, to creative imagination, also useful in case of stress, here are the 5 most fruitful relaxation techniques.

1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

It was the American physician Edmund Jacobson who devised the relaxation method called “progressive muscle relaxation” (PMR). In fact, it affects the muscles , which are contracted in sequence and then suddenly released. But not only the muscles benefit from it, the relaxation that follows invests the whole body.

It takes a few months before the effects are clearly perceived but, given the proven effectiveness of the method, it is certainly worth it.

It’s not too difficult, just sit with your back straight in a comfortable and relaxed position, keeping your eyes preferably closed. Breathe slowly and contract the muscles for a few seconds, at least 5, then suddenly release them and return to a relaxed position. At this point, all you have to do is repeat the exercise twice. Close with a deep breath.

2. Creative Imagination

Our imagination is also an ally of relaxation, not to be confused with fantasy. Words that seem interchangeable but are not. Because if fantasizing does not require any effort, imagining creatively instead implies our first-person participation. It is in fact a technique that requires a considerable effort of will, useful for activating the desired changes.

It is recommended, among other things, when we want to achieve certain goals or set ourselves a certain goal. But it is also invaluable against stress. In this case you don’t have to visualize goals, but situations that give you a feeling of calm, peace and relaxation. For example, you can try to imagine yourself in a place that is dear to you.

3. Mindfulness

You have surely heard of mindfulness and although it is improper to speak of a relaxation technique in this case, it can still be useful against stress, as demonstrated by numerous studies. But it should be noted that when we talk about mindfulness, we are actually talking about “awareness”, understood as the ability to pay attention to the present moment, without judging.

Indeed, it teaches us to be present, to pay attention to what we do, to focus on the here and now, rather than wandering with the mind in the past or future. And in doing so it allows us to gain more control over our lives and to let go. It starts with listening to breathing, simple only in appearance. 

When we focus attention on the breath, we tend to get distracted easily. But by repeating with perseverance, we acquire progressive awareness and all the many benefits that follow. Relaxation is therefore not its goal, but by reconciling a more balanced and less judgmental state of mind, mindfulness proves to be invaluable for our well-being in the round.

4. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is an exercising technique to help strengthen your diaphragm and fill your lungs with air more efficiently.

It reduces neck and shoulder tension, promotes better posture, decreases heart and blood pressure, and if you’re particularly stressed or tense, it helps you find relaxation again. Diaphragmatic breathing, which involves the abdominal part through the diaphragm, is deeper than “normal” breathing and, by getting used to breathing like this, you will be able to do it even in everyday life. Here’s how to practice it.

After placing one hand on your chest and one on your belly, begin to inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to inflate your diaphragm, then exhale through your mouth. You repeat for about ten minutes doing at least 7 breaths per minute. Repeat the exercise several times a week. Remember that it is the belly that needs to fill with air and the hand on the chest is really needed to check that it does not get up, because in this case the breathing is not correct.

5. Autogenic Training

Autogenic training is a relaxation technique born in 1932 thanks to the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, often used to combat anxiety, stress, insomnia, uncontrolled psychosomatic reactions. 

The advantage is that once you have learned the basic mechanism and its rules, you can manage it independently. In addition, this technique improves emotional self-control skills, enhances memory, self-awareness, introspection and other mental functions, and is useful for improving one’s performance in various areas.

The first step is represented by the acquisition of breathing and passive psychic concentration exercises, the learning of which is essential before being able to move on to the following ones. 

Regarding the exercises, they are basically divided into two groups, those of the lower or somatic cycle, which teach how to passively listen to the body, and of the upper cycle, which teach passive listening to the psyche.