There are three main types of relaxation techniques you can practice when you feel upset and stressed out. If you practice them regularly, they will become part of your lifestyle and you may find yourself habitually more relaxed as a result. I have also included a fourth relaxation technique which is a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercise to release negative thoughts and situations.
Because of the mind/body connection, exercises to relax the body will also flow through to the mind.
A lot of the stress we feel is due to our resistance to certain feelings, or emotions. Try to relax and let the feeling flow through you. Sometimes just by doing this the feelings will tend to dissipate on their own.
Relaxation techniques 1
– Breathing exercise
Do this lying down if possible, arms by you side and legs uncrossed. Loosen any tight clothing. If you can’t lie down, sit and make your self as comfortable as possible. This exercise will calm and energize you.
Take a couple of deep breaths, roll your eyes up and let them close. Concentrate on the effects of your breathing on your body. As you breathe in your stomach rises, as you breathe out your stomach falls.
Be aware of the life energy in your body, as you breathe in imagine this energy circulating throughout your body. As you breathe out, mentally say the word peace in your mind.
Continue until you feel relaxed. Then gently arouse yourself keeping the feeling of relaxation with you.
Relaxation techniques 2
– Autogenic relaxation exercise
You can do this one sitting or lying down. Loosen any tight clothing and make yourself comfortable.
Take a deep breath, hold for the count of three and exhale slowly. Repeat a couple of times. Let your eyes close.
Imagine lying on a deserted beach, you can hear the gentle waves breaking on the sand. In the distance there is the sounds of seagulls.
The sun is shining on your left arm making it warm and heavy. Concentrate on how warm and heavy your left arm is feeling.
Now the sun is moving over to your right arm and making that warm and heavy too.
Go through the same procedure with your left and right leg, your head and neck and your stomach.
Finally focus on your whole body. Feel how warm and heavy your body is. Let your body sink down into the bed or chair.
Stay in this relaxed state for a few moments before gently arousing yourself. Take the calm relaxed feeling with you for the rest of your day.
Relaxation techniques 3
– Progressive muscle relaxation exercise
This exercise may be done anywhere, sitting or lying down. It can be done as a complete exercise or split into smaller parts if time is a problem. For example just do the neck and shoulder muscles for a quick stress release.
Take a couple of slow deep breaths and let your eyes close. As you breathe in hold your breath for five seconds, notice the tension in your lungs. Now exhale and feel the relaxation response. Notice the difference between the tension and relaxation.
Now clench your left fist, clench it tighter and tighter until it feels uncomfortable. Now let go and feel the relaxation response. Feel the difference between the tension and relaxation. Repeat the exercise with the left fist again.
Work your way down the whole body clenching and relaxing each area twice. Proceed as follows…
- Right fist
- Both fists together
- Left bicep
- Right bicep
- Scalp (pull ears back)
- Frown to tense forehead
- Squeeze eyes tightly shut
- Clench jaw
- Purse lips tightly
- Head forward as far as it will go
- Head back (gently!)
- Shrug shoulders
- Tighten stomach
- Arch back (carefully!)
- Tense thighs
- Curl toes downwards to tighten calf muscles
- Curl toes up to tense shins
Mentally check each body part to make sure they are all relaxed. You should now be feeling nice and calm.
When you practice this exercise concentrate on the difference between the tension and relaxation. After doing this for a while, this will allow you to be aware of tension in your body and release it before it has time to do any damage.
Arouse yourself gently and take the feeling of relaxation with you.
Remember these relaxation techniques will work best when they are practiced regularly. Find the one that works best for you and do it as often as possible. You should feel a lot calmer when faced with stressful situations and your sleep should also improve.
Relaxation techniques 4
– NLP releasing exercise
Visualize the person, situation or event that is causing you anxiety. Hold this picture clearly in your mind. Change the picture to a black and white image. If there is sound, make it quieter and quieter until there is no sound at all.
Gradually shrink the picture until it becomes a small dot and disappears.
Picture a new situation, something that you wish to happen. Make the picture as colourful and as bright as you can. Add sound and music if you like. Put a white frame around the picture. Imagine this situation is really happening. Hold the visualization for as long as you like.
This is not easy to do at first but persevere! You are giving your unconscious mind a clear message about what path you want it to take.
You can use the second part of the exercise to create what you want in your life.
I hope these four relaxation techniques help you relax and sleep more soundly. Practice them daily at first until you can relax at will. After that do them as needed. They will become easier the more you do them.