The best relaxation techniques for managing stress and anxiety
Mindfulness disciplines allow us to change the focus of attention, focus on the present moment and disconnect from the mental noise.
The human mind is a fascinating and complex machine that never rests. In fact, the brain is always working, even during sleep. That’s why trying to turn it off or block it out aren’t very realistic options. As Cinthya Molina, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, explains, “the human mind is constantly jumping from one thought to another, it’s the way it works. This is known as “monkey mind”, a term that refers to being unable to focus on a single thought and concentrating on it, like a monkey jumping from branch to branch”.
This partly explains the difficulty we have in reaching that full state of relaxation in which we can disconnect from the mental noise, which is always present and reconnect with our inner self. “Beyond the way the brain works, we have to add that we live in a society that drives us to continuously seek out new stimuli, which leads to severe emotional overload, stress and anxiety. The immediacy and overstimulation of social media have created a toxic positivity that forces us to constantly seek new challenges and goals and prevents us from enjoying the goals we have achieved. Not only that, but it makes it seem like we have to be super parents, super ambitious at work, enjoy a dream holiday, have a perfect body, etc. And the problem is that this hyperstimulation isn’t just external, but often we ourselves are the ones who cause it. If we’re not doing a thousand things at once, we feel like we’re wasting our time”, adds the expert.
In short, the hyperstimulation caused by today’s frenetic pace of life is the main reason why we find it so hard to relax, something that has a powerful impact on emotions and leads to a sense of frustration. “This indicates that you’re not spending your time efficiently and effectively on what you really need to”, Cinthya warns. “If you’re juggling many tasks at the same time you can’t focus on any of them, which also keeps you from relaxing and resting”.
The important thing, the expert stresses, “is to shift the focus from thoughts to physical sensations. This is known as grounding, that is, coming back down to earth and refocusing attention through the senses. Because using the five senses is the anchor for staying mindful of the here and now. You can reconnect with the present moment and escape the mental noise through mindful eating, pranayama breathing techniques (breathing is the bridge that connects the body with the mind), yoga, meditation or letting yourself go with the flow with a watsu massage”.
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