ways to relax and unwind

A Summary of Science-Backed Ways to Relax and Unwind

My personal guide to relaxation techniques, including my favorites and other effective methods.

Hi, and welcome to my guide on ways to relax and unwind! I dedicate my spare time to learning and sharing techniques, which have helped me slow down and get calm – mentally and physically 😌

I put considerable effort into researching and practicing. As a rather pragmatic guy with a background in mathematics, I only include techniques supported by scientific evidence to ensure their effectiveness.

To kick off this list of ways to relax, I’ll first share my favorite techniques. These are the ones that have worked particularly well for me. I practice these regularly, typically on a daily basis.

Use my experiences as inspiration only – experiment with combining single techniques to find your unique and perfect blend of relaxation.

For more details on each technique, just click on them. I have put together boiled-down summaries that are easy to digest. These summaries also provide quick insights on how to practice the techniques and how to tackle potential difficulties.

My Favorite Techniques

When it comes to me, I’ve realized that there is often a more profound reason behind my need to calm down. And one thing I’ve learned over the past decade is that addressing these underlying issues is crucial for achieving sustainable relaxation.

It took me years to fully understand that I use relaxation techniques to battle symptoms.

A prominent example is a lack of control over your life due to overwhelming responsibilities or tasks. I mean, this mental overload can quickly lead to stress and permanent nervousness 🤯

So, tackling these root causes always gets my priority, while the techniques below help me to support such a growth and development process. In particular, mental techniques are real “ninja hacks” 🥷 in that context…

In the past 10 years or so, a combination of breathing techniques, physical activities, and mental methods truly hit the sweet spot for me. As a big fan of breathing exercises, I’ve uncovered they are a robust foundation for relaxation when combined with the right physical and mental practices:

Deep Breathing

deep breathing

Focus on slow, deep breaths to activate the body’s natural relaxation response and reduce stress.

Wim Hof Method

deep breathing

A combination of deep breathing, cold exposure, and meditation to improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.


deep breathing

Engage in a cardiovascular workout that helps release endorphins, reduce stress, and promote mental clarity.

Reframe Challenges

deep breathing

Shift your perspective on challenges or obstacles, viewing them as opportunities for growth and learning to promote resilience and optimism.

Self-Compassion Break

deep breathing

Pause during a difficult moment to acknowledge your feelings and extend compassion toward yourself, promoting inner calm and resilience.

Silence and Solitude

deep breathing

Spend time alone and in silence to create space for self-reflection, relaxation, and mental rejuvenation.

Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques have become integral to my daily routine. I now dedicate time daily to practice focused breathing sessions, significantly impacting my overall well-being.

It’s truly incredible to see how effectively these breathing exercises slow down my heart rate. The results motivate me to continue this practice, and I hope you’ll find these techniques as transformative as I have.

4-7-8 Breathing

deep breathing

Use a specific breathing pattern (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8) to induce relaxation.

Box Breathing

deep breathing

Inhale, hold, exhale, and pause for equal counts (e.g., 4 seconds each) to promote calmness and focus.

Ocean Breath

deep breathing

Inhale and exhale through the nose with a slight constriction in the back of the throat, creating an ocean sound.

Mental Techniques

I believe mental techniques are the most powerful tools in our relaxation arsenal. They cannot only slow down your body and mind, but also promote growth and personal development. While they can be challenging to learn and maintain consistently, the payoff is absolutely worth it. Mental techniques are a game-changer in the long run.

Cognitive Reframing

deep breathing

Change negative thought patterns by consciously reframing them into positive or constructive thoughts.

Positive Self-Talk

deep breathing

Replace negative self-talk with encouraging, supportive language to build self-esteem and confidence.

Laughter Therapy

deep breathing

Engage in activities that promote laughter to release endorphins, reduce stress, and improve mood.

Celebrate Small Wins

deep breathing

Recognize and celebrate even small achievements, reinforcing a positive attitude and building momentum towards larger goals.

Visualizing Intentions

deep breathing

Set and visualize specific, positive intentions for the day to promote goal achievement and well-being.

Side Hustle

deep breathing

Take back mental control (and hence relax) by engaging in a fulfilling endeavor apart from the primary job.

Saying No

deep breathing

Take back control over your life and decide for yourself instead of being instructed.

Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness techniques bring simplicity and foundational joy into our lives. To me, these practices are the ones that ground us and reveal the true essence of what matters.

I can slowly remove the noise by focusing on the things that matter – typically, it’s the little things, as we all know. With the following techniques, it feels like alleviating the constant bombardment of signals my brain receives 🤯.

So, mindfulness really relaxes the mind, reminding me to cherish the present moment and embrace the beauty in my everyday experiences.

Walking Meditation

deep breathing

Meditate while walking, focusing on your breath and bodily sensations to promote mindfulness.

Digital Detox

deep breathing

Set aside time to disconnect from electronic devices, allowing the mind to relax and focus on the present moment.

Forest Bathing

deep breathing

Spend time in nature, engaging your senses to promote relaxation, stress reduction, and well-being.


deep breathing

Express thoughts and feelings through writing to process emotions, reduce stress, and promote clarity.


deep breathing

Rub your hands together to create warmth, then place them over your closed eyes to relax and relieve eye strain.


deep breathing

Take short breaks throughout the day to stretch, breathe, or engage in a brief relaxation technique to reduce stress and maintain calm.

Physical Techniques

Incorporating physical exercise into our weekly routines is crucial for those serious about embracing relaxation. For example, I run three times a week, covering about 10 kilometers in each run.

However, it doesn’t have to be running – there are numerous ways to get moving. The key is understanding physical activity’s powerful impact on our bodies and minds. Exercise sparks a transformative shift in our hormonal balance, unleashing a cascade of positive effects 💪

So, yeah, let me inspire you by giving you a few options 🙂 …

Tai Chi

deep breathing

Practice a series of slow, flowing movements to improve balance, flexibility, and relaxation.

Hatha Yoga

deep breathing

Practice a balanced combination of postures, breathing, and meditation to promote relaxation and well-being.


deep breathing

A low-impact, full-body workout that can help reduce stress, increase flexibility, and promote relaxation.


deep breathing

A fun, creative way to express yourself, release stress, and improve physical fitness.

Meditation Techniques

Meditation is the place where it gets quiet 🤫 And this is what I like.

I’d say everyone should give meditation a try 🧘‍♂️ Yes, it can be challenging to learn and maintain over weeks or months, but the experience and the rewards are worth it.

I’ve explored various guided courses and experimented with techniques from books and YouTube videos. Finding the right meditation style takes time and patience.

For example, I discovered that visual techniques – where you e.g. imagine situations or just consciously observe the dark image when your eyes are closed – didn’t quite suit me.

So, the key is to experiment. Be open to the process. In my experience, trying out meditation offers a refreshing contrast to life’s chaos, making it an invaluable experience in our journey toward relaxation.

Body Scan

deep breathing

Progressively scan and relax each part of your body, releasing tension and promoting overall relaxation.

Humming Meditation

deep breathing

Engage in gentle, continuous humming to create soothing vibrations throughout the body, calming the mind, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation and emotional release.

Zen Meditation

deep breathing

Practice seated meditation with an emphasis on posture and breathing, allowing thoughts to arise and pass without judgment, ultimately fostering a sense of clarity and presence.

Yoga Nidra

deep breathing

A guided meditation practice that promotes deep relaxation and inner peace by moving through stages of consciousness.

Music and Sound Techniques

Audio techniques, such as binaural beats and white noise, are excellent complementary tools in my relaxation toolkit 🎧 These sounds have the ability to create a calming atmosphere, which makes the whole relaxation thing more enjoyable as well.

Interestingly, there’s scientific evidence that specific patterns and frequencies can positively influence our parasympathetic nervous system – the very system we want to trigger to relax and unwind. So, it’s not just “for fun” 🙂 it really can do something for you.

I often combine these soothing auditory experiences with breathing or mindfulness techniques, to enhance my relaxation practice 🚀 … really nice!

White Noise

deep breathing

Use consistent background noise to mask distracting sounds, creating a calming environment for relaxation.

Singing Bowls

deep breathing

Listen to the soothing tones of singing bowls to encourage relaxation, stress relief, and mental clarity.

Binaural Sounds

deep breathing

Listen to audio tracks with different frequencies to promote a relaxed mental state and reduce stress.


Frankly, I struggled a bit to include aromatherapy as a separate category.

While I don’t practice aromatherapy, I can observe that it genuinely works for others. I have friends who swear by the power of aromatherapy, although it hasn’t significantly impacted me. Pretty interesting.

So, yeah, everyone is different 🙃 Hence, I decided to include this category in my list to inspire and encourage the exploration of diverse relaxation techniques.

Intriguingly, there is also scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of aromatherapy in promoting relaxation. Compelling and “good enough” reasons for me to keep an eye on aromatherapy…

Lavender Aromatherapy

deep breathing

Use the scent of lavender essential oil to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep.

Rosemary Aromatherapy

deep breathing

Use the scent of rosemary essential oil to enhance focus, reduce stress, and stimulate mental clarity.


As I delved into all these relaxation techniques, I encountered many questions along the way. So I’ve compiled this short and sweet FAQ section to address some common inquiries and help you navigate your journey toward tranquility 🤙

How do I choose the right relaxation technique for my lifestyle and needs?

Selecting the right relaxation technique depends on your goals, preferences, and available time. Identify your main objectives, such as stress reduction or sleep improvement, and consider your daily routine. Experiment with different methods to discover what resonates with you, and be open to change as your needs evolve. Ultimately, it’s essential to find a technique that is both comfortable and effective for your unique journey.

How often should I practice to see the best results?

In my experience, regular practice is key to fully benefiting from relaxation techniques. Incorporating a daily routine, like deep breathing exercises, works well for me. Other methods, such as meditation or yoga, might need just 10-30 minutes a few times a week.

Should I focus on one technique only?

I’ve learned that practicing multiple relaxation techniques is beneficial, as each method offers unique advantages. For me, combining techniques like mental shifts and deep breathing has helped address different aspects of relaxation. I mean, just listen to your body. Focus on the methods that resonate with you the most. Don’t hesitate to experiment. Find the best combination for you, as everyone’s relaxation ride is unique.

How can I track my progress?

Tracking your progress with relaxation techniques can be really helpful – it’s simply motivating. I use the iBreathe app and an Oura Ring to see my improvements. Of course, you don’t need the same setup. But I’d recommend at least some kind of basic tracking. Don’t get crazy with this, though. 🙂

Wrap Up

My journey to becoming quiet and relaxed is constantly changing. I’ll keep updating the above list as I learn and try new things. Your feedback matters, so feel free to reach out and share your thoughts.

Cheers, and all the best 👋