Finding time for relaxation exercises can be difficult in a busy lifestyle. Research shows, however, that taking the time to meditate, practice yoga, listen to music or do tai chi can actually improve the quality of your life. Relaxation exercises have been known to lead to greater clarity of thought, a decreased need for sleep and a greater overall sense of well-being.
Research on Meditation
One study observed a group of men in their twenties who practiced meditation and found measurable physiological changes in the men compared to a control group. Those who meditated regularly showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone created by the body in times of stress. Over time, it can damage various organs of the body, including eroding parts of the brain.
The significance of this finding and that of similar studies is that you can actually control the impact of stress on your life by practicing relaxation exercises on a regular basis. You might not have control over the number of stressful events you are exposed to, but by relaxing on a regular basis, you can lower the impact of those stressors on your body and mind.
Different relaxation exercises work for different people. After incorporating some form of relaxation exercise into their daily lives, many people experience greater joy, improved sleep and, in some cases, a reduced need for sleep. There are a variety of relaxation exercises from which to choose.
Meditating to Relax
The act of meditation can mean different things to different people. In this context, meditation is the process of clearing the mind of excessive thoughts and mental chatter. When you meditate with the intent of becoming more relaxed, you will want to find a quiet spot, free of distractions. As you sit still, you might focus on your breath and make sure that you are breathing deeply. Just the act of focusing on the breath is known to bring your attention to the present moment.
Relaxation exercises tend to work best when you devote at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to the activity. A walking meditation is one form of relaxation exercise that appeals to some people. Just walking outdoors in beautiful surroundings and allowing all of your senses to be present in the moment will help to increase relaxation and decrease stress.
Yoga and Tai Chi for Relaxation
Other examples of relaxation exercises include a regular practice of yoga or tai chi. In these activities, you are focused on creating a mind-body-spirit connection where you increase the flow of energy throughout your body. Many people who practice yoga or tai chi express a greater sense of personal awareness and relaxation after each session.
Through trying different relaxation exercises, you can determine what works best for you. Some people find it relaxing to exercise, listen to their favorite music or get a regular massage. Any activity that is relaxing for your body will also decrease your stress and improve your mental state.