Short Relaxation Practice Techniques

  • Use relaxation techniques during high stress situations.
  • Relaxation techniques are good to do on a daily basis many times each day in any situation. It feels pleasant, enhances relation skills in general, helps prevent headaches and other symptoms.
  • These brief relation exercises do not take the place of doing other extended relaxation exercises. Rather, they are to be used in addition to daily practice.
  • When you become anxious, many physiological events occur including: 1) sympathetic outflow, 2) peripheral vasoconstriction (cold hands), 3) holding your breath or restricted breathing, 4) tense skeletal muscles (especially face) and clenching your jaw.
  • The following are four types of short relaxation/meditation exercises. Use all of these or choose the one that seems to work best for you (fits best with your pace, ideas, interests, etc.).

Two Minute Body Stress Scanning
Designed to take about two minutes but could be extended when you have time. People often do this when they must wait, while watching TV, during breaks in schedules, etc. 

  1. Interrupt your thoughts—stop thinking about your surroundings and switch your thoughts to your breathing. Take tow deep breaths from you abdomen and exhale slowly. 
  2. Scan yourself for tense or uncomfortable spots (forehead, jaw, shoulders). 
  3. Warm your hands momentarily. 
  4. DO two quick yoga exercises: "Head rotation"- rotate your head around in a circular motion once or twice. 
  5. Recall a pleasant thought, image, memory, or feeling—just for a few seconds. 
  6. Take another deep breath and return to you activities.

The Quieting Response
Charels Stroebel, M. D.

Designed to last 6-10 seconds, but could be extended when you wish. This is a good exercise to use in the midst of chaos, panic, hectic circumstances, or times when you feel you can only spare less than 1 minute. 

  1. Discriminate an annoying stimulant- In other words, quickly determine what it is about this situation, here and now, that is annoying. For example, the phone might be ringing frequently, someone might be sitting behind you kicking your chair, there may be excessive noise, you may feel pressured to perform well or think quickly. 
  2. Smile- Outwardly or inwardly say to yourself: "Leave my body out of this." (You can say this aloud or say it to yourself silently.) 
  3. Take two easy breaths. As you inhale, count from 1 to 4 and exhale counting from 1 to 4. 
  4. As you exhale the second breath, let your jaw go limp, and quickly spread some of this relaxed, loose feeling to tense muscle groups.

A Short Meditation
(5-10 Minutes) 

  1. First scan your body, see what the muscles feel like, attempt to relax and loosen up, allow yourself to feel body sensations. Stay with this body scanning for a couple of minutes. Allow the muscles to feel as heavy and warm as possible. Focus on warmth in your arms and hands. 
  2. Focus now on your thoughts. What are you thinking of? What kinds of thoughts have you had today, and which ones come to mind now? Are these upsetting thoughts or comforting ones? Dwell on the comforting or pleasant thoughts and place a greater emphasis on these thoughts. 
  3. Focus now on your emotions or feelings. What do you feel? Content? Angry? Annoyed? Sad? Excited? Peaceful? Allow yourself to feel. 
  4. Take 3 deep breaths (easy and slow) and return to your activities.

The Relaxation Response
Herbert Benson, M. D. 

  1. In a quiet environment, sit in a comfortable position. 
  2. Close your eyes 
  3. Deeply relax your muscles and allow them to remain deeply relaxed. 
  4. Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you exhale, say the word "one" silently to yourself. Continue this practice for 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes with your eyes open.