Mental relaxation is elusive. Even during physical relaxation, the mind can stress out.
Some ailments like muscle tension are often caused by a mind that can’t stop (perhaps because of anxiety). It’s best to relax the mind directly because the mind controls the body. If you are able to relax the mind, the body will follow.
Here are some ways to directly relax your mind.
Listen to “The Most Relaxing Song Ever”
Not just any music will do. Some music directly communicates with your brain—it’s designed to relax your mind!
The group Marconi Union created a song called “Weightless.” In a study, 40 female participants listened to various songs, and “Weightless” had the strongest effect, reducing their anxiety by 65 percent.1 Some call it the most relaxing song ever; it’s not recommended that you listen to it while driving because it may make you drowsy.
I played the eight minute track twice before I went to sleep the other night and slept at a profoundly deeper level than I had in the past week. As I write this, I have a 10-hour looped version playing and…. zzzz… What? Oh, yes. I was writing, wasn’t I?
The song doesn’t have one single secret; it combines many sound and relaxation techniques to relax you. If you want to read more about how it works, I recommend reading this article. And of course, I recommend you give it a listen or two to see how it affects you.
Spend an Hour in a Sensory Deprivation Tank
If you’ve followed my writing recently, you probably remember my review of sensory deprivation tanks. I really, really like them.
Think of a sensory deprivation tank as an on/off switch for your brain. Every day, we are bombarded with sensory input from the world—emails, cell phones, Facebook, advertisements, and so on. It’s relentless! A sensory deprivation tank shuts it all out. You can’t see, hear, or even feel anything as the water inside is heated to the same temperature as human skin. It’s unlike any other experience and I recommend you try it if you have the opportunity.
See my article on sensory deprivation tanks for more information on the science, such as their potential to cure general anxiety disorder.
Take a Nature Walk
A study found that walking in nature actually reduces brain activity in the area responsible for rumination. This is great news, and perhaps not all that surprising. Anyone who has taken a walk in the woods or alongside a stream can tell that it’s more relaxing than walking near a busy road. But the fact that it has a proven effect on the brain is pretty fascinating.
Play With Your Pet
Multiple studies have found that interacting with pets reduces the stress hormone cortisol in saliva and blood plasma samples.2 (Mostly dogs have been studied, but cats are proven stress relievers, too.)
I’m all about application, and I realize that it isn’t possible for all people to do all of these. For example, I don’t have a pet, so that form of stress reduction is hard to come by. But I can walk a mile or so along Lake Union in Seattle to go to my float tank center to get two forms of mental relaxation in one.
The easiest application for most of us is the music. I know I can go to YouTube and play that song for free. I can even play it through my smartphone, which is always with me.
Other proven mental relaxers to consider: meditation, reading, and exercise. You can even try reading or meditating with the uber-relaxing music in the background.
The broader takeaway is to make an effort to directly relax your mind. Watching TV is alright for physical relaxation, but it’s not nearly as powerful as these suggestions for mental relaxation. The payoff for mental relaxation is immense. You’ll be happier and more productive, with more energy and less tension.
For a little bit of help, you can try boosting your magnesium levels: take epsom salt baths, rub magnesium oil on your skin, or drink water with magnesium citrate powder. Magnesium is involved in over 300 bodily processes, and it relaxes us at the cellular level (helping the brain and body relax). I used to struggle with anxiety, and applying magnesium oil was key in my full recovery! See my article on Dumb Little Man for more about the power and importance of magnesium.