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Take 5: 5-Minute Relaxation Techniques

relaxation techniques

It's possible that this is the year you'll take up yoga, tai chi or transcendental meditation. This could definitely be the year that you develop a passion for reflective gardening, full-throated chanting or escapist visualization. But it's also possible that this might be the year – similar to last year, the year before, and the year before that – that you're disrupted from these calming pursuits by impertinent realities like the dishes, the bills, your job or your children. If that's the case, do not despair. You can still get in touch with the calmer, more centered you. Here are 5 ways to relax in 5-minutes or less:

  • Take a Deep Breath (or 10) -- Breathing is actually a form of meditation. If you are inhaling and exhaling on a daily basis, you have what it takes to meditate. No chants, books or incense needed. Find a comfortable place in your house, if you can – or just escape to anywhere semi-private. Inhale deeply through your nose and then exhale very slowly. As you inhale and exhale, focus on your breath. Note the feeling of it coming in and going out. Take 10 of these focused breaths, concentrating only on the feeling of the breath. If you get distracted, or your mind starts to wander, stop, reset and start again.

  • Create a Zen Zone -- Relaxation feels a bit different for everyone. For some it's a spa retreat, for others it's a comfy chair, a blanket and a page-turning book. Pick a spot in your home and designate it your Zen zone. It could be a bathtub that you accessorize with candles, a plush bathmat, a good CD and trashy magazines. It could be an oversized armchair and side table that you set up in your bedroom, away from the chaos of the rest of the house. Pick one place that can be your oasis. It needn't be very large, but pay close attention to the colors, lighting, scents and comforts your use to outfit that spot -- and, as much as possible, keep that space yours and yours alone.

  • Stop and Smell Some Therapy -- Aromatherapy is a great way to quickly unwind. Essential oils like lavender oil, tea tree oil, and lemon oil can be dispersed through a diffuser, applied topically or inhaled directly. For a fast chill-out, try placing a small amount of an essential oil, like lavender oil, into your palms. Cup your hands over your nose and inhale deeply. The scent will immediately re-orient your senses, bringing you back to the present moment; it's a great way to step outside of whatever stress you're having and re-focus your energies. If you are already in your Zen zone, consider using a scent diffuser to disperse the essential oil.

  • Seek Out the Sun -- The sun is a powerful healer. We know the sun produces Vitamin D in our bodies, which doctors are finding is more and more important for our overall health and well-being. Too little sun can make people withdrawn and even depressed. Those of us who work in an office know it's possible to go for days and see very little of the sun. Taking five minutes to get outside – going up to the roof, walking around the building, spending a few moments on the outside patio – can be just the breather you need, a chance for you to step away from that small crisis that seems insurmountable and get some much need perspective. For those not in an office, getting outside for a few minutes a day can still be a great way to relax. Step into your backyard, walk out to the mailbox, or just open your window and look up. The world is big enough to hold all our stresses, so release some of that worry back into the universe.

  • Get It On…and Get Back To Your Day -- Yes, we're talking about sex. Quick sex. Otherwise known as a quickie. No frills, no lead-in, no cozy talks after. Get it on and move on. You'll feel better for it. And your partner will too.

Elizabeth Kotin is a Family.com staff writer.
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