In some people, too much stress simply results in irritability. In other people, too much stress can cause or worsen health problems, including essential tremor. Learning to relax is the key to reducing stress.
Below are a few relaxation exercises. Be sure that you have a quiet location that is free of distractions. Make sure that you are in a comfortable body position and a good state of mind. Try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.
- Rhythmic breathing: If your breathing is short and hurried, slow it down by taking long, slow breaths. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Count slowly to five as you inhale, and then count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale slowly, pay attention to how your body naturally relaxes. Recognizing this change will help you to relax even more.
- Deep breathing: Imagine a spot just below your navel. Breathe into that spot, filling your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let the air out like you are deflating a balloon. With every long, slow exhale, you should feel more relaxed.
- Visualized breathing: Find a comfortable place where you can close your eyes and combine slowed breathing with your imagination. Picture relaxation entering your body and tension leaving your body. Breathe deeply, but in a natural rhythm. Visualize your breath coming into your nostrils, going into your lungs and expanding your chest and abdomen. Then, visualize your breath going out the same way. Continue breathing, but each time you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in more relaxation. Each time you exhale, imagine that you are getting rid of a little more tension.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a circular motion once or twice, but be sure to stop any movements that cause pain. Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.
- Relaxation and music: Combine relaxation exercises with your favorite music in the background. Select the type of music that lifts your mood or that you find soothing or calming. Some people find it easier to relax while listening to specially designed relaxation audio tapes, which provide music and relaxation instructions.
- Mental imagery relaxation: Mental imagery relaxation, or guided imagery, is a proven form of focused relaxation that helps create harmony between the mind and body. Guided imagery coaches you in creating calm, peaceful images in your mind -- a "mental escape." Practice making positive statements about yourself. One example of a positive statement would be: "I am healthy, vital, and strong."