The heart beats faster, your blood pressure increases, you notice that the breathing is accelerating and is less deep, you do not feel the increase in the flow of certain hormones, but the tension and sweat on the skin. It’s stress, you need to relax. According to the study 360 Wellbeing Survey 2019: Well and Beyond, of the company health insurance company Cigna, you probably do sports to keep it at bay, like 42% of Spaniards. You may resort to conversation with family or friends (34%), cultivate a hobby outside of work (24%), sleep more (21%) or try to spend more time with friends (20%). But if you need something more immediate, the company proposes five relaxation techniques that you can use at any time.

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

When we are stressed, the body needs more oxygen and breathing speeds up. But that is not enough, oxygenation of the body needs to increase the volume of air we breathe. To achieve this, the recommendation is to make between 5 and 10 abdominal inspirations and expirations, slowly and deeply from the diaphragm. Take a breath through your nose and expel it through your mouth, and focus on completely emptying your lungs before inspiring again. Do not underestimate the benefits of good breathing.

2. Travel and Camping

Spending time in nature can help you relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood and enhance feelings of happiness and well-being. It doesn’t matter if we call it forest baths, ecological therapy, full awareness in nature, time in green spaces or natural healing: human beings evolved in the open air and a trip back to nature will provide benefits to your brain. If you don’t like the idea of stooping to sleep on an air bed or sleeping mat, then a Camping Beds or fishing bed may be a great alternative for your camping sleeping arrangement.

3. Progressive muscle relaxation

According to the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, “relaxation is a technique for reducing physiological activation that has proven effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders and other emotional disorders,” and can be achieved through techniques such as this. “It consists in learning to reduce muscle tension by performing tension exercises, little intense and brief, and relaxation, longer. We must focus on the sensations produced by both steps to acquire the necessary skills that will allow us to identify tension and eliminate it.” The process is divided into three phases.

The first is to contract and relax the muscles from head to toe – which are all life insurance. It begins with the face and continues with the neck and shoulders, which tense and distend three times in this order: forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, jaw, lips, neck, neck and shoulders. Then arms and hands contract, alternatively; the legs are stretched (also alternately), lifting them up and noticing muscle tension; the back, putting the arms in cross and bringing the elbows back; the thorax, inspiring and retaining the air for a few seconds; and the abdomen and waist, tightening and tensioning the stomach and buttock muscles.

The second phase consists of mentally reviewing each of the parts of the body worked, to feel how they have relaxed. The third may be the most complicated at a time of stress: it is about facilitating relaxing thoughts in the mind.

4. Positive visualization

It is a variation of traditional meditation, and it is necessary to start the imagination, perhaps activating the memories of scenes such as those given to us by the holidays. Feeding the imagination has a prize. The idea is to direct the concentration on positive and pleasant images, recreating situations that we would like to live or remembering happy moments from the past. It is advisable to use the senses to try to imagine the smell, touch and sounds of the scene.

5. Laugh and smile

According to Cigna, both actions contribute to the release of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. The idea is that these biomolecules relax the body, reduce the heart rate and lower blood pressure. Specifically, endorphins contribute to calming pain and serotonin acts as an antidepressant. It is not clear that it will solve the problem, but it is worth a try.

6. Yoga and pilates

Although the former has become a sport, if we practice these disciplines with the head both can help us reach a state of relaxation that allows us to control stress and anxiety.