Relaxation for mindfulness: Calming the body and mind

Relaxation — and how we achieve it — is personal. Nattu/Flickr

Relaxation — and how we achieve it — is personal. Nattu/Flickr

We garden. We put on headphones. We fold ourselves into an overstuffed chair with hot tea and our favorite author.

Relaxation — and how we achieve it — is personal. Here at Self-Haven, you’ll find resources to help you unwind, from simple, soothing photography to professionally guided relaxation sessions. Mindfulness often means time for quiet reflection, and there is calming support in this space.

When we’re relaxed, whether it’s from an enjoyable activity, sleep or simple peace of mind, our body changes. The effects are similar to what happens during a massage, where the release of physical tension finds its way to the entire body. 

The University of Minnesota’s massage therapy school breaks down what happens: Our heart rate slows, the body increases production of serotonin, a chemical that promotes positive emotions, and our blood pressure drops. That’s what it feels like for stress to melt away.

Sometimes, however, life throws us circumstances that make it difficult to get there. How do we cast away our cares when they seem so present? When we clear our mind with yoga, meditation or music, for example, we center our perspective. Certain techniques as fundamental as paying attention to the rhythm of your breathing can have a calming effect. The result is often that we cut through the noise.

Deep breathing is a great place to begin alleviating stress, and here’s a technique courtesy of WebMD. Put your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. Slowly fill your lower lungs with air so that your left hand rises when you breathe in, and your right hand remains still. Now, slowly exhale, and repeat the process eight to 10 times.

That’s just the beginning. There’s so much more to see, hear and feel, and we invite you to explore.