How to Relax Your Body

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All you need to know to begin undoing what stress has been doing to you is how to systematically relax all the muscles in your body. Here is how you do it.

Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for about 15 minutes. Dim the lights. Locate a comfortable chair in which you can sit straight up with your feet on the floor. Sit comfortably in the chair. Pay close attention to how you feel as you begin. Notice any stiffness or tightness. Are there any aches or pains? Do you feel tense, frustrated, or keyed up? Pay attention to how you feel now because you are going to become more relaxed, and you need a point of comparison.

First, we will review what to do and then we will experience the relaxation exercise. The systematic muscle relaxation procedure goes as follows.

While sitting quietly and comfortably, slowly inhale and exhale and close your eyes as you do so.

Bend your right hand back at the wrist and briefly hold the tension. Now relax.

Now do the same thing with the left hand. Hold the tension and now relax.

This time tighten both hands into fists and hold the tension. Feel it spread up the arms towards the elbows. Now relax.

Now bend both arms at the elbows and raise your hands up towards your shoulders. Tighten up the muscles in the biceps. Hold it. Now relax.

These three exercises have used the major muscles in the arms and started them relaxing. If you don’t move them around, they will continue to relax becoming more and more relaxed, and you can forget about them

Next, turn your attention to your face. For your forehead raise your eyebrows up a far as you can and hold the tension. Now relax.

For your eyes, squeeze the eyelids tightly together. Hold the tension. Now relax.

For your jaw you just bite down and clamp your teeth together. Feel the tension along the jaw. Now relax. These three exercises have started the face relaxing.

For your neck just bend your head forward as if trying to touch your chin to your chest. Feel the tension along the back of the neck and now relax.

For your shoulders just raise them up as high as you can and notice the tension. Now let them drop all at once and relax.

For your chest you do two things at once. Take a deep breath and hold it while at the same time trying to touch your shoulder blades together by pulling your arms back. Hold it. Now relax.

For your stomach you just pull in as if trying to touch your backbone with stomach. Now relax.

For your back you arch out and away from the chair, and you can feel tension along the spine. Now relax.

With your feet flat on the floor, press down and feel the tension spread up the back of the legs. Now relax.

For the right thigh raise your leg up on front of you and feel the tension build. Now relax.

Now do the same thing with the left leg and relax.

Finally, for your feet bend your toes up as if pointing towards the ceiling and feel the tension around the feet and ankles. Once again, relax

Print these instructions to follow when offline.

Click here to listen to or to download
a sound file of the relaxation instructions.

Now that we have reviewed the procedure, we will practice this exercise. We will relax the muscles as we just described. By the time we are through, your body will be more relaxed. At this time your heart rate will have slowed, your blood pressure will have come down, and your breathing will have become regular and deep. The other changes mentioned will soon follow.

But, first. What is your mind doing?


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