Physical Relaxation Techniques

The following physical relaxation techniques will help you relieve stress by releasing physical tension from your body.

Physical Relaxation Technique #1 -- Relaxing the Body

  1. Select a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Remove your shoes, loosen your belt or tight clothing. Stretch out on your back, arms resting by your sides, feet slightly apart, eyes gently closed.

  2. Think, "Now I am going to relax completely. When I finish I will feel fully refreshed and energized."

  3. Bring your attention to your feet, wiggle your toes, flex your ankles. Then let go, release all the tension, and let your feet rest limp and heavy.

  4. Bring your attention to your legs, your knees and thighs, up to your hips. Imagine them just sinking into the floor or chair, heavy and relaxed.

  5. Bring your attention to your arms, elbows, and upper arms, all the way up to your shoulders.

  6. Imagine all the tension just melting away.
  7. Bring your attention to your abdomen.Let the tension go, and allow your breathing to flow more smoothly and deeply.

  8. Bring your attention to your stomach and chest, up to your throat and neck. As you continue breathing more deeply, just imagine all the tenŽsion flowing out as you are relaxing more and more deeply.

  9. Now, bring awareness to your throat, neck, and head, feeling loose and relaxed.Relax your facial muscles.Let the jaw drop, parting the lips and teeth.Picture yourself completely relaxed.

  10. If you are aware of any remaining tension anywhere in the body, mentally go to that area and allow tension to release and dissolve away.

  11. Continue to remain in this completely relaxed state for five to ten minutes. You may picture pleasant thoughts, or simply blank your mind and enter a state of light sleep.

  12. When you are ready to get up, say to yourself, "I have been deeplyrelaxed. I am now ready to awaken, feeling completely refreshed, energized and relaxed."

  13. Begin to move by flexing the ankles, wiggling the toes. Then wiggle the fingers, and gently shake your wrists.

  14. Bend the right knee, and then the left knee.Bend the right arm and then the left arm.

  15. Open your eyes. Stretch each arm over your head. Then slowly sit or stand up, and stretch again.

You are now ready to continue with your activities.

Physical Relaxation Technique #2 -- Body Scan

This physical relaxation technique will help you reclaim the all too often "lost world" of your body. With continued use of this relaxation technique and frequent mental scans throughout the day, the richness of physical aliveness will continue to reveal itself to you, and the warning signs of stress will by quickly recognized.

Body Scan Diagram

Print the diagram above, and then indicate intensity of sensations in any region on a scale of -5 to +5, with 0 being neutral, -5 being extreme discomfort, and +5 being extreme pleasure. Doodle in the feelings of tingling, vibration, density, numbness, and so forth. Do not draw conceptualized anatomical structures (bones, organs, etc.). Graphically represent feelings in any region you have awareness of.

The physical relaxation techniques described here can be used almost any time throughout your day to release physical tension from your body and more effectively manage stress in your life.

[Adapted from the book "The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation" by Joel & Michelle Levey]

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