18 essential meditation techniques for stress relief

Feeling Stressed Out? Learn How to Relax

Meditation is an age-old technique that has been shown to improve both psychological and physiological well-being. It is crucial in today’s fast-paced, high-stress environment to take a step back and find even a few minutes of peace and quiet to regain perspective. Meditation is a great method for stress reduction, sharpening concentration, and improving overall health and happiness. In this essay, I’ll go through eighteen of the most essential meditation techniques for stress relief and achieving inner peace, bettering your mental health.

Mindfulness Meditation

One of the most common types of meditation is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness entails paying attention to the here and now, accepting one’s internal and external experiences as they are without attaching meaning to them. Mindfulness or meditation practice helps you become more self-aware and tranquil by training your brain to pay attention to the thoughts that run through your head without reacting to them. Research suggests that engaging in mindfulness meditation can help manage stress and reduce health problems associated with chronic stress.

Methods for Training:

  1. Locate a place to just sit comfortably or lie down where you won’t be disturbed.
  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.
  3. Draw your awareness into the here and now by concentrating on something like your breathing, a bodily experience, or a word or phrase (such as “in” and “out” as you breathe deeply).

When you find your thoughts wandering, gently redirect them.

Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta)

The goal of loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, is to increase feelings of empathy and kindness toward oneself and others. There are a variety of potential health benefits, including the alleviation of stress reducing anxiety, the enhancement of feelings and the consolidation of connections with other people.

Methods for Training:

  1. Relax in a soft, quiet spot for a while.

  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking few breaths.

  3. To get started, say to yourself softly and inwardly, “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be at rest.”

  4. Start with the people closest to you, then friends and acquaintances, and eventually everyone in the universe.

essential meditation techniques for stress relief

Body Scan Meditation

As you practice body scan meditation, you become more attuned to your physical self and more aware of your body functions and the sources of any stress or tension you may be carrying. Learning to relax your complete body and let go of stress via the practice of body scan meditation is possible. It involves focusing on different muscle groups to release tension.

Methods for Training:

  1. Body scan meditation can be done sitting or lying down. Select a comfortable, distraction-free position.
  2. Shut your eyes and take slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body. Inhale to expand your lungs and exhale to relax.
  3. Start by scanning your physique from head to toe. Observe any sensations, tension, or discomfort in each region for a few moments.
  4. Relieve tension: When you notice tension in certain regions, intentionally relax the muscles and release any rigidity. Visualize the tension going away or envision your breath soothing and relaxing them.
  5. Scan the entire body, releasing tension as you go.

Finish the meditation: After scanning your body, take a few more deep breaths and slowly return to the room. Open your eyes slowly and note how your body feels.

Be patient while you learn body scan meditation and be consistent: Try to practice often, ideally daily, to get the full benefits of this meditation technique. Practice with an open mind. Be nice to yourself and accept any meditation-related feelings.

Breath Awareness Meditation

Focusing on one’s breathing in breath awareness meditation is a simple yet powerful approach to relaxation meditation used for calming the mind and relieving stress. By regularly engaging in this activity, you may train your mind to focus and think more clearly.

Methods for Training:

Breath awareness meditation, also known as mindful breathing or anapanasati, is a simple but powerful method that focuses on your natural breath. It calms, concentrates, and relaxes.

  1. Get comfy: Sit or lie down in a peaceful place. Maintain a relaxed, alert posture. Sit cross-legged on a cushion, in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, or lie down with your arms by your sides.

  2. Shut your eyes gently to reduce visual distractions and focus inward. You can also glance downward with slightly open eyes.

  3. Start with calm, deep breaths to relax and focus. Inhale deeply and slowly exhale to relax.

  4. Become aware of your natural breathing: Let your breath flow naturally. Simply watch your chest and abdomen rise and fall or your nostrils fill and empty.

Focus: Your mind may wander as you notice your breath. Gently acknowledge the distraction and return to your breath. Noticing and focussing improves awareness and concentration.

Silently counting your breaths or repeating a short phrase or mantra with your inhalations and exhalations may help you focus on your breath. If your thoughts wander, simply return them to your deep breathing.

Practice breath awareness meditation for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. A mild alarm timer can terminate your meditation session. Increase the duration as you become used to it. There also exist Meditation Apps which could help you for this case, like Insight Timer. See also our Guide about The Top 10 Meditation Apps in 2023.

After meditating, note how your body and mind feel. Slowly open your eyes and return to the room. Take your meditation calm and focus into ordinary life.

Guided Imagery Meditation

Guided Imagery or Visualization is a method of meditating by imagining pleasant scenes in order to reduce anxiety and stress. You may help your body and mind relax and let go of tension by visualizing settings. This technique is also beneficial for improving one’s overall physical and emotional health including lowering blood pressure (Read more / Scientific Info: The Multiple Uses of Guided Imagery – PubMed (nih.gov)).

Methods for Training:

  1. Locate a place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking few deep breaths.

  3. Try visualizing a place that makes you feel relaxed and content, like a gorgeous beach, a quiet forest, or a warm and welcoming home.

  4. Imagine this situation in detail, taking note of the sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations that come to mind as you do so.

Simply give in to the imagery and allow yourself a few moments to relax.

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is an age-old technique that includes mentally repeating a word, phrase, or sound in order to cultivate concentration, calm the mind, and reach a state of transcendental bliss. Practicing with a mantra is a terrific way to sharpen your focus, clear your head, and feel better in yourself (More Info / Scientific Source: Mantra meditation for mental health in the general population: A systematic review – ScienceDirect).

Methods for Training:

  1. Locate a place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking few deep breaths.

  3. Choose a motto that speaks to your soul. Traditional Sanskrit mantras include “Om,” “So Hum,” and “Om Shanti,” while modern mantras include “peace,” “love,” and “I am present.” You should choose a mantra that resonates with you on a deep, personal level.

You should repeat the mantra in silence in a low voice, allowing your mind to concentrate on the words themselves rather than the surrounding noise. Reciting the mantra in time with your breath or at a steady, rhythmic tempo might help you focus and relax.

If your thoughts wander, simply bring them back to the mantra you’re repeating. When you train, it’s important to remember to be gentle and accepting of yourself.

Gains from Practicing Mantra Meditation:

  • Reduces tension and anxiety: Mantra meditation’s meditative repetitions have been shown to have a calming effect on the psyche. This method has the potential to induce a profound feeling of calm and mental clarity.

  • Increases the mind’s capacity to focus on a single object, which carries over to the practitioner’s ability to focus on other tasks.

  • Mantra meditation has been shown to increase self-awareness, allowing practitioners to better comprehend their own mental processes by becoming more in tune with their feelings and thoughts.

  • Positive and meaningful mantras have been shown to improve emotional well-being by increasing feelings of joy, contentment, and love.

Mantra meditation can be a highly effective method for developing a more meaningful relationship with oneself, increasing one’s awareness, and nurturing a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life, all of which are essential for the pursuit of spiritual development.


Research suggests that self-massage can help reduce stress, alleviate muscle tension, and promote relaxation. By using self-massage techniques, you can target specific muscle groups and alleviate discomfort caused by stress or physical strain.

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet space where you can practice self-massage without distractions.

  2. Choose a body part or muscle group that feels tense or sore, such as your neck, shoulders, or back.

  3. Using your hands, gently apply pressure and massage the targeted area in circular motions.

  4. Breathe deeply and focus on the sensation of the massage, releasing tension as you work through the muscles.

  5. Practice self-massage regularly to manage stress, promote deep relaxation, and support your physical health.

In conclusion, incorporating these relaxation techniques into your daily life can provide numerous health benefits, help manage stress, and improve your overall well-being. It is essential to explore different methods and find what works best for you, as each individual has unique needs and preferences. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey of self-discovery and self-care through the practice of relaxation and stress reduction.

Chakra Meditation

Chakra meditation focuses on the seven energy centers or chakras within the body, aiming to balance and harmonize these centers for overall well-being. This form of meditation can help to promote self-awareness, and encourage spiritual growth (More Info /Scientific Info: (PDF) Is there scientific evidence for chakras? (researchgate.net)).

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a comfortable and quiet space to practice chakra meditation.

  2. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position, with your eyes closed

  3. Starting at the root chakra, located at the base of the spine, visualize a spinning wheel of energy in the color associated with that chakra (red for the root chakra).

  4. Mentally recite a mantra or affirmation that corresponds to the chakra’s purpose (e.g., “I am grounded” for the root chakra).

  5. Move up through each chakra, focusing on the corresponding color and affirmation.

Finish the meditation at the crown chakra, located at the top of the head, and visualize a connection to universal energy.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. By consciously controlling your breath, you can help to calm your nervous system and create a sense of balance and inner peace.

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable space to practice deep breathing exercises.

  2. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position, with one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.

  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs with air.

  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your abdomen fall as you release the air.

  5. Continue to practice deep, slow breaths for several minutes, focusing on the sensation of your deep breath, and the rise and fall of your abdomen.

To better handle stress and promote your overall health, incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine.

By incorporating a variety of relaxation techniques into your life, you can experience numerous health benefits, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. It is essential to explore different methods of relaxation exercises and find what works best for you, as each individual has unique needs and preferences. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey of self-discovery and self-care through the practice of relaxation and stress reduction.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Tensing and then relaxing many sets of muscles all over the body is the basis of a relaxation method known as progressive muscle relaxation. This method has been shown to increase sleep quality and lower stress and anxiety levels.

Methods for Training:

  1. Locate a place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking few deep breaths.

  3. The best technique to stretch out your muscles is to start at your feet and work your way up, tensing and then relaxing each group of muscles as you go.

    Think about how it feels as tension leaves your muscles one by one.

Qi Gong

Traditional Chinese medicine Qi Gong combines physical exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises to promote overall health. Maintaining a state of mental and physical equilibrium through the cultivation of one’s “qi” has been shown to have beneficial effects on health and well-being (Source/Read more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085832/).

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable space to practice Qi Gong exercises.

  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms relaxed at your sides.

  3. Begin by taking slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

  4. Perform Qi Gong exercises, such as lifting the sky, pushing the mountains, or parting the clouds, focusing on coordinating your movements with your breath.

Practice Qi Gong regularly to experience the full benefits of this ancient practice and support your mental and physical health.

Journaling for Stress Reduction

Journaling is a therapeutic practice that can help you manage stress, process negative emotions, and gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts and feelings. By putting your thoughts and emotions on paper, you can gain new insights and perspectives, helping you to better manage stress and improve your mental health. Many studies have indicated that keeping a journal can help alleviate depression. A 2006 study by Stice, Burton, Bearman, & Rohde revealed that writing in a diary can be as helpful as cognitive-behavioral therapy when it comes to reducing the risk of depression in young adults.

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable space to write in your journal.

  2. Begin by writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without censoring or judging them.

  3. You can use prompts to guide your writing, such as “What am I grateful for?” or “What is causing me stress today?”

    Make journaling a more regular practice and part of your daily routine to experience the full benefits of this technique.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga combines laughter exercises, deep breathing, and gentle stretching to reduce stress, boost mood, and improve overall health. This practice can help you release tension, improve your immune system and function, and increase the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals (Source/ReadMore: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917183/).

Laughter can change anything

Methods for Training:

  1. Join a laughter yoga class or find a laughter yoga video online to guide your practice.

  2. Participate in laughter exercises, such as greeting laughter, milkshake laughter, or lion laughter, while maintaining eye contact and playfulness with others in the group.

  3. Combine laughter exercises with deep breathing and gentle stretching to further enhance relaxation and stress reduction.

Practice laughter yoga regularly to experience its full health benefits and support your mental and physical well-being.

Walking Meditation

The mindful practice of walking involves focusing on one’s gait and the sights and sounds around oneself as one strolls. While practicing this method, you can reap the advantages and benefits of meditation exercise while simultaneously becoming more present and centered (Source/Read More: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/walking-meditation-is-science-backed-solution-to-stress-heres-why).

Methods for Training:

  1. Choose an area free of distractions where you feel comfortable taking a slow, leisurely stroll.

  2. Focus on the feel of your feet striking the ground and the motion of your body as you walk.

  3. Take in all of your senses, from sight to sound to scent, and be present at the moment.

As you find your thoughts wandering, bring them back to the act of walking and the sensations it brings.

Visualization Meditation

The purpose of visualization meditation is to strengthen one’s values and goals through the cultivation of positive mental images. Visualizing one’s success, pleasure, and overall health might help one maintain a more optimistic outlook and reduce stress.

Methods for Training:

  1. Locate a place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Relax your body and mind by shutting your eyes and taking few deep breaths.

  3. Think of a positive outcome you’d like to achieve, whether it’s more self-assurance, better social interactions, or serenity of mind.

Think about what it would be like to have accomplished this and how you would feel.

Zen Meditation (Zazen)

Zazen, or Zen meditation, is a seated practice with Buddhist roots that emphasizes concentration on one’s breath as a means to develop awareness and calmness of mind. By using this method, you can get insight into yourself and your surroundings (Scientific Info: Harvard researchers study how mindfulness may change the brain in depressed patients – Harvard Gazette + Zen Meditation Alleviates Pain, Study Finds — ScienceDaily)..

Methods for Training:

  1. Sit on a cushion or a chair in a peaceful, private area.

  2. Maintain an upright sitting position, like the full or half lotus, with your hands in your lap and your back straight.

  3. Simply focus on the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body, either by closing your eyes or keeping them open with a light look.

Maintaining an attitude of non-judgment and acceptance, gently return your attention back to your breath if your thoughts wander.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Yoga and Tai Chi are both mindful movement practices that combine physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. They can help to improve flexibility, balance, and strength while also promoting relaxation and stress relief (Scientific Source/Read More: Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? – PubMed (nih.gov) and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20105062/).

Methods for Training:

  1. Find a suitable space where you can practice without distractions.

  2. Choose a style of Yoga or Tai Chi that resonates with you and learn the basic postures and movements from a qualified instructor or through online resources.

Focus on the connection between your breath and movements, cultivating mindfulness and presence as you flow through the practice.

Drawing Calming Circles

Drawing calming circles is a simple and accessible technique to center yourself and reduce stress. This practice involves drawing circles with your finger, a pen, or a brush while focusing on the movement and rhythm of the action.

Methods for Training:

  1. Choose a comfortable and quiet space to practice.

  2. Hold your drawing tool or use your finger, and draw slow, even circles on a piece of paper or another surface.

  3. Focus on the sensation of the movement, the rhythm, and the shape of the circles as you draw.

  4. Allow your thoughts to settle and your mind to become calm as you continue drawing circles, gently bringing your attention back to the task if your thoughts wander.

Finding the best relaxation technique for you may require exploring different methods and discovering what works best for your unique needs and preferences. You can improve both your mental and physical health, as well as your general quality of life, by implementing these relaxation techniques into your regular practice and making them a part of your daily routine. Take care of yourself, and don’t forget to be gentle with yourself as you embark on a path of self-discovery through relaxation techniques, guided meditation, and other forms of self-care.

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