3 Easy Techniques to help you relax and rewire your body’s stress response

We are living in a digital tech age.  We are constantly bombarded with information, either on TV, computers, iPad or cell phones and this constant bombarded of increased sensory information is taking a toll on our bodies.  Specifically, it can affect your autonomic nervous system.  Your autonomic nervous system is comprised of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  That is your fight or flight and rest/digest responses respectively.  The autonomic nervous system takes care of all the automatic mechanisms in your body, such as heart rate, breathing, digestion.  It has been suggested that, “Negative news, especially when watched on TV, can be shocking enough to create symptoms of acute stress, anxiety and even PTSD.” (Time Magazine)

Life is about joy and fulfillment.  Doing more of what you love brings this about.  However, how do we go from overstimulated systems in a digital world, to cultivating a more relaxed life and body? Here are a few tips to start you on your journey.

Mindful Breathing

One of the easiest things to begin. Put all your attention into your breath. It helps you to focus when your mind wanders.  Stay in the moment; breath in for four counts, pause, and then breath out for four counts.  This is a helpful technique for a beginner to get you started.  You can go so many places from here!

Meditation

This can be easy to moderate on a difficulty scale. Meditation is to help you focus and build concentration. It also helps your body by putting your nervous system into a more rest/digest response.  Look for a class or a meditation instructor to get you started.  There are also many apps on the apple store or google play.

Body scan and progressive muscle relaxation

This is a moderately difficult exercise to do. It builds on meditation practice and moves from head to toe and back again, bringing awareness to different muscle group and organs in your body.  The more you become attuned to your body and aware of its sensations, the better it can help you to ward off stress-related ailments.

When you have worked on bringing your attention and focus inwards with breathing, meditation or progressive relaxation you can move onto more difficult techniques such as visualizing or autogenic training.

Visualizing is a mindfulness technique where you create a mental picture to take a sensory journey to a peaceful and calm place or situation. It is also known as imagery meditation.  Use as many senses as you can.  Smell the environment, feel the warmth of the sun or the ground you may be standing on, listen to the sounds of the forest or the water fall, touch the flowers or the trees.  You can go anywhere you like!

Finally, autogenic training is the hardest technique.  As you advance in your mindfulness practices this technique uses both visualization and body awareness to achieve control of your autonomic nervous system.  It involved silently repeating a “script” to help you imagine.

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