Relaxation Techniques

Our busy lifestyles—with work, children, families, etc.—can leave us frazzled and leaving little time to ‘stop and smell the roses’. Follow the relaxation techniques listed below to receive the following benefits:

  • slow your heart rate
  • slow your breathing rate
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce muscle tension
  • increase blood flow to major muscles
  • reduce the need for oxygen
  • reduce the frequency of headaches and back pain
  • reduce anger and frustration
  • increase energy
  • improve concentration
  • improve your ability to handle problems

Abdominal Breathing

  • Chest breathing—shallow, irregular, and rapid—is often associated with chronic stress and tension
  • Abdominal breathing is deeper, slower, more rhythmic, and relaxing 
  • Abdominal breathing helps you normalize your heart rate and reduce muscle tension and anxiety
  • Lie on your back and place one hand on your abdomen and your other hand on your chest; follow your breathing 
  • Press your hand down on your abdomen while you exhale and then let your abdomen push your hand back up as you inhale deeply
  • Imagine that your abdomen is a balloon and that as you inhale you are filling it with air

Body Scan

Pay attention to each part of your body as it is in the moment, without judging or trying to change anything. The body scan can help you relax and improve your mindfulness.

  • Lie down on your back
  • Starting with your toes and slowly working your way up your body, notice the sensations you feel in each body part, without trying to change anything
  • Try to breathe into and out from that body part
  • Imagine that any tension in your body flows out on each out breath
  • On each in breath you are breathing in energy, vitality, and relaxation
  • Try to spend 20 minutes doing your body scan

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

You cannot feel stressed when your body is in a state of deep relaxation and you may not know which of your muscles are chronically tense. In PMR, you focus on the sensations of tension, and then relaxation, in one muscle group at a time. You are able to distinguish between tension and deep relaxation. Try to spend 15–30 minutes doing PMR.

Download the steps to follow Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Guided Imagery

  • Program of directed thoughts and suggestions that guide your imagination toward a relaxed, focused state
  • Imagine that you are in a safe, comfortable place, free from tension and danger
  • Involve all of your senses
  • What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste?


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