beach-chair-smAre you stressed out a lot and don’t know what to do about it?  Do you find yourself running at warp speed on a daily basis and your days seem to run from one into the next in a blur? Are you looking for simple, practical ways to reduce your stress?

You are not alone. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage it. And, 42% say their co-workers need help. There are many other statistics on levels of stress whether on the job or in life in general, but the point is, there are methods each of us can put into practice to start to reduce our overall stress, improve our overall health, and just plain live more stress-free, healthy, and happy lives.

So, what are we missing that we all need? Effective ways to relax! And that means effective for you—not the latest fad but something that resonates with you. In other words, you feel comfortable with it and it feels good to you. That said, be open to learning about various relaxation techniques.

That brings me to the real meat of this article. Often times when people hear the word “meditation,” they have an automatic response of “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried it and I can’t do it.” Well, I used to have that same automatic response. It seemed like something too foreign or difficult.

But, there is more than one way to do almost everything, and the same is true for meditation. Throw out all your old beliefs and try this practical method that will help you to relax. It worked great for me. It’s easy to do, and involves no contortions.

These simple methods of relaxation can be done at any time and for varying lengths of time. I’ve found that giving myself at least 15 to 20 minutes is most effective, but start with 5 minutes or whatever you’re comfortable with. It’s all about adapting them to your particular style and needs.  Here’s how they work:

  • Choose a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and where you can get comfortable;
  • If you’re not in comfortable clothing, change into something loose and comfortable;
  • Sit or lie down, whichever works best for you;
  • Close your eyes and take a couple nice, deep breaths;
  • Say to yourself, “I am intentionally relaxing all my muscles. All my muscles are completely relaxed.” (If mind chatter starts to pop in, and it will when you first start doing any meditation, you can simply say the word “clear” or whatever word works best for you to redirect yourself back to the quiet;
  • Take occasional slow, deep breaths as you go and repeat: “I am intentionally relaxing all my muscles. My muscles are completely relaxed.”
  • Continue this quiet meditation for any length of time that feels right for you or until you are completely relaxed.

meditative-yoga-poseAnd, because some of us are more visual than auditory, another good meditation is to follow all the steps above but instead of saying anything simply hold a beautiful image in mind (visualize) such as a beautiful ocean scene or perhaps the mountains against a deep blue sky. This method is equally relaxing and will melt away your tension and cares and help you completely relax.

Don’t be surprised if it takes a couple or even a few times to start to see results. This is normal because most of us have become accustomed to busy schedules and hectic paces that cause our minds to be overactive. Just know that as you continue to practice these meditations, your mind will start to quiet itself as your muscles and body relax completely.

These are just a couple very simple and practical meditations I’ve created to help relieve stress and totally relax. I find that doing one at bedtime helps me sleep better than if I don’t, and doing one in the morning improves my cognitive function and gets my day started with a fresh perspective, an open mind, and a new level of enthusiasm. Once you start seeing results, you’ll find yourself looking forward to this quiet, soothing alone time, and it will soon become a regular part of each day.

Peggy Nelson is a certified coach, author, and the founder of She coaches busy professionals and entrepreneuers on the life-changing power of expanding their perspective and is a prolific writer about this and related topics.

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