If you are feeling tense, stressed or anxious the following can be a useful exercise to incorporate into your daily life. By doing these exercises you are likely to feel more calm and relaxed.
Find a quiet room where there are no distractions and there will be no interruptions. You may wish to do the following exercise with some relaxing much such as classical or meditation music however you may prefer to do this exercise in complete silence.
Breathe in through your nose slowly to the count of five (count slowly as you inhale).
Pause and hold your breath to a count of five.
Breathe out slowly through your nose or mouth to the count of five (or more if it takes you longer). Be sure to exhale fully.
When you’ve exhaled completely, take two breaths in your normal rhythm, and then repeat steps one through three above.
Keep up the exercise for at least three to five minutes. Allow yourself to count higher as you go on, if this occurs naturally. If you start to feel light-headed, stop for 30 seconds and then start again.
Throughout the exercise, keep your breathing smooth and regular, without gulping in breaths or breathing out suddenly.
Optional: Each time you exhale, you may wish to say “Relax,” “Calm,” “Let go,” or any other relaxing word or phrase silently to yourself. Allow your whole body to let go as you do this. If you keep up this practice, eventually just saying the relaxing word by itself will bring on a mild state of relaxation.
Muscle Relaxation Technique
1. Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor slightly apart and your hands resting on your knees (if it is more comfortable, lie on the floor in the relaxation position, which is: lying flat on your back with your arms beside and a small distance away from your body, palms facing upwards, your legs straight and a little bit apart, feet falling outwards, chin tucked in a little so your nose is not sticking up in the air and your neck is straight, mouth closed and tongue resting behind your teeth with your eyes closed.
2. Work your way through your body tensing and relaxing each part – beginning with your hands.
3. Clench your left hand into a fist as tight as you can and hold it for a few seconds. Relax the clenched hand so it feels floppy. Tense and release your forearm, and then your upper arm the same way.
4. Tense and relax your other hand and arm the same way.
5. Move through each body part, tensing and relaxing each of your muscles (some parts will be easier to tense and relax than others).
6. When you have tensed and relaxed all of your muscles, lie quietly for a moment and take several deep breaths with a long slow exhale.
7. Wriggle your toes.
8. Stretch your arms and hands.
9. Blink and open your eyes.
Enjoy this feeling of relaxation.
Take your time before you resume your usual activities.