There’s no greater skill to easing anxiety and physical tension than learning to relax. Think about how many times you’ve heard someone else say, “relax” or “calm down” and thought: It’s not that easy!
Relaxation is a skill. There are many paths to learning relaxation skills. I, personally, like progressive muscle relaxation, a guided practice of tensing and relaxing various muscle groups while breathing deeply. You can also learn to self-soothe with guided imagery, yoga, meditation, tai chi and other techniques.
An under-recognized yet very useful, evidence-based approached to learning relaxation is biofeedback. Biofeedback training involves heightening awareness of and gaining greater control of one’s own physiological processes through feedback—via instruments that measure heart rate, brainwaves, blood pressure, skin temperature and/or muscle tension.
Biofeedback equipment can be quite costly, but with our changes mobile technology, biofeedback tools have become much more affordable and accessible. Although they do not replace biofeedback training with an experienced therapist with this skill set, these home-use devices/apps are great ways of achieving the relaxation response:
Belly Bio: A great app that uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to monitor proper diaphragmatic breathing. Inexpensive and very useful.
My Calm Beat: A very nicely designed, inexpensive app for the iPhone or Android that personalizes and monitors paced breathing practice. Add-on modules, each at a low cost, include various paced breathing exercises and games.
Breath Pacer: A simple, inexpensive, paced breathing app available for iPhone or Android devices.
Inner Balance: An app and a heart-rate sensor that plugs into your iPhone or iPad and guides you through paced breathing while providing you with feedback about your ongoing heart rate variation.
This article originally appeared on Sharecare.com, the leading online health and wellness social platform.