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Stress Reduction and Relaxation: The 6 Ultimate Exercises for Self-Care

Stress Management

Stress is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.

It can be caused by various factors, such as work, family, health, finances, or personal issues. Stress can affect your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and interfere with your ability to enjoy life and cope with challenges.

However, stress is not always bad. It can also motivate you to take action, learn new skills, or overcome obstacles. The key is to manage your stress in healthy and effective ways and to prevent it from becoming overwhelming or chronic.

One of the best ways to manage your stress is to practice self-care. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself and your needs, to maintain your health and happiness. Self-care can help you reduce stress, improve your mood, boost your resilience, and enhance your quality of life.

There are many forms of self-care, but one of the most important and beneficial ones is relaxation. Relaxation is the state of being calm, peaceful, and free from tension or anxiety. Relaxation can help you counteract the negative effects of stress, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Relaxation can also have positive effects on your health and well-being, such as:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing heart rate
  • Deepening breathing
  • Relaxing muscles
  • Relieving pain
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing energy
  • Enhancing focus and memory
  • Improving mood and self-esteem
  • Increasing compassion and empathy

In this blog post, I will share with you some simple and practical ways to practice relaxation for self-care. You don’t need any special equipment or skills to get started. All you need is a few minutes of your time and a willingness to try something new.

Stress Reduction: Can Relaxation Help?

Relaxation can help to reduce psychological stress and anxiety. Even five minutes of undisturbed rest can help relieve stress. Here are some ways to practice relaxation for self-care:

1. Breathe deeply.

Breathing is one of the most basic and essential functions of our body, yet we often take it for granted. Breathing deeply and consciously can help you calm your mind and body, regulate your emotions, and release tension.

To practice deep breathing, find yourself in a quiet and comfortable spot. Sit or lie down with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it feels as it enters and leaves your nostrils, chest, and abdomen. Don’t try to change or control your breath, just observe it as it is.

Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4, hold for 1 second, and then exhale through the mouth to a count of 5. Repeat this cycle for a few minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.

You can practice deep breathing anytime and anywhere, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. You can also use it as a way to start or end your day, or as a transition between different activities.

2. Do a body scan.

A body scan is a type of meditation that helps you relax and become more aware of your body and your feelings. A body scan can help you release stress, tension, and pain, and improve your sleep quality.

To do a body scan, find a comfortable position, such as lying down on a bed or a mat, or sitting on a chair or a cushion. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Start by bringing your attention to your feet. Notice any sensations, such as warmth, cold, tingling, numbness, or pain. Don’t try to change or judge what you feel, just acknowledge it and let it be.

Then, slowly move your attention up your body, to your ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, lower back, abdomen, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, neck, head, face, and scalp. As you scan each part of your body, notice any sensations, emotions, or thoughts that arise. Again, don’t try to change or judge what you experience, just observe it and let it go.

You can do a body scan for as long as you like, whether it is 10 minutes or an hour. You can also vary the order, the speed, and the focus of your scan, to make it more suitable for you.

3. Stress Reduction By Listening to Music.

Music is a powerful tool for relaxation, as it can affect your mood, emotions, and brain activity. Music can help you reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase happiness, relaxation, and well-being.

To practice music relaxation, choose a type of music that you like and that is soothing, calming, or uplifting. You can use music that has lyrics or instrumental music, depending on your preference. You can also use music that has a specific theme, such as nature, meditation, or spirituality.

As you listen to music, pay attention to the sounds, rhythms, melodies, and harmonies. Notice how the music makes you feel, physically and emotionally. Let the music flow through you and fill you with positive energy. You can also sing along, hum, or tap your feet, if you feel like it.

You can practice music relaxation for as long as you enjoy it, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour. You can also vary the type, the volume, and the source of music, to make it more interesting and fun.

4. Do some stretching.

Stretching is a form of physical activity that can help you relax and improve your health. Stretching can help you loosen up your muscles, joints, and tendons, and increase your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. Stretching can also help you prevent injuries, reduce pain, and improve your posture.

To practice stretching, find a spacious and comfortable area. Wear loose and comfortable clothing, and remove your shoes. Warm up your body by doing some gentle movements, such as walking, jogging, or jumping. Then, start stretching your major muscle groups, such as your neck, shoulders, back, chest, arms, legs, and hips. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, and breathe deeply and slowly. Don’t bounce, force, or overstretch your muscles, and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

You can practice stretching anytime and anywhere, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. You can also use it as a way to start or end your day, or as a break between different activities.

5. Use aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the use of natural oils extracted from plants, such as flowers, herbs, or fruits, to enhance your physical and mental well-being. Aromatherapy can help you relax, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve your mood, memory, and sleep.

To practice aromatherapy, choose an essential oil that you like and that has relaxing properties, such as lavender, chamomile, rose, or jasmine. You can use the oil in different ways, such as:

  • Inhaling it directly from the bottle or a cotton ball
  • Diffusing it in the air with a diffuser or a spray
  • Applying it to your skin with a carrier oil, such as almond, coconut, or jojoba
  • Adding it to your bath water or your massage oil
  • Sprinkling it on your pillow or your clothes

As you use the oil, breathe deeply and slowly, and enjoy the scent and the sensation. Notice how the oil makes you feel, physically and emotionally. Let the oil soothe and calm you, and fill you with positive energy.

You can practice aromatherapy anytime and anywhere, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. You can also vary the type, the amount, and the method of oil, to make it more suitable and enjoyable for you.

6. Find relaxation resources.

If you want to learn more about relaxation, or if you need some guidance and support, there are many resources available online and offline. Here are some examples:

  • Online programs and apps. Many websites and apps offer relaxation courses, exercises, and tips. Some of them are free, while others require a subscription or a fee. Some of the most popular ones are Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and Relax Melodies.
  • Books and podcasts. Some many books and podcasts teach you how to practice relaxation, or that share stories and insights from experts and practitioners. Some of the best-selling books are The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, and Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Some of the most popular podcasts are The Daily Meditation Podcast, Sleep With Me, and The Mindful Podcast.
  • Classes and groups. If you prefer to learn and practice relaxation in person, you can look for classes and groups in your area. You can search online, ask your friends, or check your local community center, library, or health center. You can also look for specific types of relaxation, such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, or meditation.


Relaxation is a powerful tool for self-care. It can help you cope with stress, improve your health, and enhance your happiness. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful. If you did, please share it with your friends and family, and leave a comment below. 

Thank you for reading!

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