No matter what the career, stress happens. When not kept in check, buildup of stress in personal life and in the workplace can contribute to a plethora of health problems. How can you control your stress, improving your health, minimizing risk, and contributing to an overall increase in quality of life?
One of the best ways to improve your stress management and improve productivity is to participate in a self-paced relaxation that poses little risk, minimal cost, and is flexible in location and time. With special thanks to Mayo Clinic, we would like to share the benefits of relaxation and how you can participate in these to improve overall health and productivity in the workplace.
Use of Relaxation Techniques in the United States
People may use relaxation techniques as part of a comprehensive plan to treat, prevent, or reduce symptoms of a variety of conditions including stress, high blood pressure, chronic pain, insomnia, depression, labor pain, headache, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, workplace stress, chemotherapy side effects, and others.
According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 12.7 percent of adults used deep-breathing exercises, 2.9 percent used progressive relaxation, and 2.2 percent used guided imagery for health purposes.
11 Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks such as deadlines or quotas, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
In reducing stress, these ten key benefits will help you recognize why you need to utilize relaxation techniques.
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Reducing activity of stress hormones
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration and mood
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
- Decreasing metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively, finding humor, problem-solving, managing time, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.
Types of Relaxation to Improve Productivity and Reduce Stress
Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. Most methods require only brief instruction from a book or experienced practitioner before they can be done without assistance. These techniques may be most effective when practiced regularly and combined with good nutrition, regular exercise, and a strong social support system.
Related: Improving Ergonomics in the Office
There are many great ways to improve relaxation through practice and planning, but sometimes the best way to get the most is to see what works for you. Until you find your preferred methods, here are a few different relaxation techniques to get you started.
- Autogenic Training (Autogenic Relaxation): When using this method, you focus on the physical sensation of your own breathing or heartbeat and picture your body as warm, heavy, and/or relaxed.
- Biofeedback. Biofeedback-assisted relaxation uses electronic devices to teach you how to consciously produce the relaxation response.
- Deep breathing or breathing exercises. To relax using this method, you consciously slow your breathing and focus on taking regular and deep breaths.
- Guided imagery (Visualization): For this technique, you focus on pleasant images to replace negative or stressful feelings and relax. Guided imagery may be directed by you or a practitioner through storytelling or descriptions designed to suggest mental images (also called visualization).
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: (also called Jacobson’s progressive relaxation or progressive muscle relaxation): For this relaxation method, you focus on tightening and relaxing each muscle group. Progressive relaxation is often combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises.
- Self-Hypnosis. In self-hypnosis you produce the relaxation response with a phrase or nonverbal cue (called a “suggestion”).
Additional techniques to improve could include the following: Deep breathing, Hypnosis, Massage, Meditation, Tai chi, Yoga, or Music and Art Therapy.
6 Ways to Maximize Value of Relaxation Techniques
In order to benefit the most from relaxation, certain tips can be followed to improve the success and impact on your wellbeing. With special thanks to the University of Illinois, we would like to share with you 6 tips on improving your relaxation.
Find a Quiet Environment
- Eliminate distractions
- Minimize noise, light, odor, movement, etc.
Adopt a Passive Attitude
- Empty your mind of any thoughts and distractions
- Allow your body to let go
- Don’t worry about how well you are doing
- You can best control the exercises by not controlling them
Use a Mental Devise of Some Type to Dispel Distractions
- A word or phrase may be repeated over and over again to forget distractions
– “I feel calm, and relaxed”
– Relax and let it go”
– Relax, recharge, rejuvenate”
- A visual device may be an object or a symbol to keep you focused and relaxed
Assume a Comfortable Position
- You will remain in this position for about 20 minutes, so make sure you are not sitting in a position where you are using your muscles because this could create tension and work against relaxation.
- Sitting or lying down is fine. If you are using a relaxation technique in the morning to get yourself going, lying down may not be best.
- Some relaxation techniques are portable, such as deep breathing. Once you feel comfortable and experienced with the technique you can use it while walking, sitting, or lying down.
Loosen Constricting Garments
- Remove jewelry
- Loosen clothing appropriately
Practice at Least Once a Day for 20-30 Minutes
- To incorporate relaxation into a stress management regimen, you need to schedule time for you relaxation. Make sure it is enough time!
- Work at our relaxation routinely. The more consistent you are with taking time for yourself to relax, the better you will be in facing the unexpected which tends to cause stress levels to rise.
- Expect to feel and see results in 2-4 weeks. Don’t go for the quick fix. Be sure to give a technique a good try before moving on to another choice.
Balancing work and life can seem daunting. Nova Medical Centers cares about improving the quality of life for all of our occupational health clients and their employees. We welcome you to read through other occupational health tips, learn more about what we offer, and subscribe to our mailing list to learn more.
Please share this with other employees and those interested in improving their wellness productivity.