Exercises and methods for relaxation

Pressure to perform, persistent stress and pressure make us sick if they persist. Rest and relaxation are therefore not a luxury, but a must. These methods will teach you to switch off and refuel.

Full schedule, pressure to perform, stress of all kinds - often our everyday life is stressful and highly demanding. If they are long term, they can be harmful to our health and mental well-being. People also need periods of rest and regular breaks in their day-to-day working lives. If we do not allow ourselves a reasonable amount of downtime, our productivity declines. Consistently high pressure causes stress and increases the risk of burnout. Try to strike a balance between activity and relaxation, work and rest. Regular breaks and relaxation exercises will help. Relaxation exercises can help you cope with day-to-day pressures.

1,500 Plus points for relaxation courses

Take part in relaxation courses such as the Feldenkrais method course, autogenic training and breathing exercises – we’ll reward you with Plus points. How to do it: Download the Helsana+ app, upload confirmation of participation or the invoice as a photo. Once we’ve checked this, you’ll be credited 1,500 points.

Relaxation is not the same as sleep. It can be achieved in everyday life in various ways. In addition to deep breathing, walking, listening to music or taking a warm bath, there are different methods that are particularly suited to inducing a state of relaxation. We each have our own special ways of finding a balance. We will show you five possible methods that you can use to relax and strengthen your personal resources.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are a simple and effective way help to alleviate the negative effects of shallow breathing and help you relax better. Breathing is the most important basic function of our body. The respiratory centre in the brain automatically controls the breathing process. However, thoughts and feelings influence our breathing at both conscious and unconscious levels. For example, our breathing is restricted when we are experiencing stress or have a bad posture. As a result, individual parts of the body regions and organs get too little oxygen and carbon dioxide is only partially removed. This can cause headaches, increased fatigue or muscular tension.

This is where breathing exercises come in: It trains you to be aware of your breathing. This has a positive effect on your entire respiratory function and results in better oxygen supply and relaxation. The natural breathing rhythm also compensates body tension.

Relaxation exercise: Abdominal breathing

Lie on your back or sit down with a straight back. Breathe in and out as evenly as possible without exerting much effort. First let the air flow into your stomach and then into your chest. Breathe out by first relaxing your chest then your stomach. Your stomach should move noticeably inwards. Once you have fully exhaled, do not breathe again until you feel the need to do so. This can take quite a few seconds. Be sure to inhale through the nose.

These abdominal breathing exercises increase the volume of air inhaled. This way, the body's oxygen supply is improved and relaxation begins. You may feel slightly dizzy at first. This feeling has to do with the increased oxygen supply, but you should quickly get back to feeling normal.

Take 5-10 minutes a few times a week to concentrate on your abdominal breathing. Once you are a little more skilled, you can perform the exercise on a train, at work or at home. With time you will get used to "correct" abdominal breathing and it will become automatic. This will make you feel more relaxed and calm overall.

Our commitment to your health

You can acquaint yourself with breathing exercises in a course if you wish. You will receive 75% or up to 200 francs per calendar year from the supplementary insurances SANA and COMPLETA for breathing exercise courses that promote your health. Instructors must be recognised by the Helsana Group: Find recognised courses.

Autogenic training

With this technique, you relax using the power of your thoughts – without any aids.

Autogenic training was developed in the 1920s by the German neurologist Johannes Heinrich Schultz. The aim of autogenic training is to be able to relax at will, in any place and at any time. It can be done in both a lying and a sitting position. That means it can easily be incorporated into your everyday life, whether lying down at home or sitting in a tram, train or bus.

Autogenic training consists of six standard exercises. It is important to do the exercises in the stipulated order. It is best to take a course if you want to learn the technique. You should take your time when learning to practise autogenic training. It should take a week to familiarise yourself with each exercise.

The first three exercises can be carried out without worrying about the state of your health. If you suffer from cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, migraine or severe mental health problems, please consult your family doctor before trying the remaining exercises.

The six basic exercises in brief
  1. Heaviness exercise
    “My right arm is very heavy.” You imagine first how your right arm becomes heavy, then your left arm, followed by your right leg and finally your left leg. If you want, you can apply this to other body parts: Head, chest, stomach, hand – as you like. Imagining heaviness promotes muscular relaxation.
  2. Warmth exercise
    It works like the first exercise, but with principle of warmth instead: "My right arm is quite warm," etc. Relaxing the muscles expands the blood vessels, which is perceived as warmth.
  3. Breathing exercise
    This exercise focuses on observation of breathing: "My breath is calm and even.”
  4. Heart exercise
    This exercise focuses on conscious awareness of the heartbeat, by feeling the pulse at the wrist or with a hand on the chest. Say to yourself: "My heartbeat is calm and even.”
  5. Solar plexus exercise
    The previous exercises activate the gastrointestinal tract. This activation is perceived as warmth and movement in the body and is reinforced by active observation.
  6. Forehead exercise
    The aim of this exercise is to imagine your forehead being cool and clear: "My forehead is pleasantly cool.”

    Please note that this is only a small preview of autogenic training. A more detailed guide is required for beginners.

Our commitment to your health

You will receive 75% or up to 200 francs per calendar year from the supplementary insurances SANA and COMPLETA for autogenic training courses that promote your health. Instructors must be recognised by the Helsana Group: Find recognised courses.

Feldenkrais method

The Feldenkrais method aims to promote physical, emotional and mental well-being through improved body awareness and movement.

The Feldenkrais method developed by the Israeli physicists and psychologists Moshé Feldenkrais (1904-1984). He was an ambitious judo athlete, but a knee injury at a young age inspired him to take a closer look at human anatomy and movement. His core belief was that thought, feeling, perception and movement are closely interrelated and influence each other. Movement patterns are created, according to his theory, by inheritance, education and self-training.

The Feldenkrais Method is based on support for self-training. The aim is to enhance physical, emotional and mental well-being through improved physical awareness and movement.

The Feldenkrais Method is suited to the treatment of many conditions including chronic pain, stress, tension, or simply to improve general well-being. It may be learned in-to-one lessons or in the context of a course.

Our commitment to your health

You will receive 75% or up to 200 francs per calendar year from the supplementary insurances SANA and COMPLETA for Feldenkrais Method courses that promote your health. Instructors must be recognised by the Helsana Group. The Customer Service team will be happy to advise you.

Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is based on the concept that posture, movement and thought patterns are all related. These patterns should be recognized and positively influenced through self awareness. This holistic method is intended in particular to reduce psychosomatic disorders (stress) and develop of natural posture and mobility.

Frederic Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), an Australian actor, was suffering from voice loss which could not be cured using conventional therapeutic methods. He discovered for himself that posture, movement and thought patterns are all interrelated. By selectively influencing his posture and movements he got his vocal problem under control.

On the basis of his experience he developed the Alexander Technique, which is now used as a method to promote health and as a therapy. The Alexander Technique helps with various functional disorders, with psychosomatic and stress-related disturbances, with breathing and mood problems, chronic pain, illness and the consequences of accidents and is suitable as an accompanying measure in pregnancy and after birth. It has a soothing effect on body and mind and promotes quality of life.

How does the Alexander Technique work?

The technique is founded on the assumption that habitual and harmful behaviour patterns may be prevented and replaced by new, healthier patterns. Learning physical awareness and improving coordination of movements and breath control are other important elements of the technique. The ideal is to have a posture that is as upright as possible whilst also being as relaxed as possible. The rhythm in Alexander Technique training is slow and meditative. The instructor works with oral instructions and gentle, manual corrections. The Alexander Technique may be learned both in one-to-one lessons and in a group setting.

Our commitment to your health

You will receive 75% or up to 200 francs per calendar year from the supplementary insurances SANA and COMPLETA for Alexander Technique courses that promote your health. Instructors must be recognised by the Helsana Group: Find recognised courses.

MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)

MBSR stands for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. MBSR is growing in popularity. This method promotes mindfulness in your day-to-day activities, leaves you calmer and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

The MBSR course, which runs for eight weeks, places the focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness is about remaining in the present moment and being attentive. You learn not to get caught up in your thoughts, make judgements or fall prey to worries or anxiety.

The course is suitable for people who feel they are under stress at work or at home, are living with acute or chronic illnesses, are suffering from chronic pain, have psychosomatic problems (disturbed sleep or digestive problems, for example) or whose lives are marred by anxieties or resentments.

Do you want to work on changing your situation and make an active contribution to maintaining or regaining your health? If so, an eight-week MBSR course is a worthwhile self-help training programme.

Our commitment to your health

You will receive 75% or up to 200 francs per calendar year from the supplementary insurances SANA and COMPLETA for MBSR courses that promote your health. Recognised course leaders are members of the MSBR Association of Switzerland: Find recognised courses.


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