Relxation Techniques

Deep Breathing

Start by settling into a comfortable position and allow your eyes to close or keep them open with a softened gaze. Begin by taking several long slow deep breaths breathing in fully and exhaling fully. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Allow your breath to find its own natural rhythm. Bring your full attention to noticing each in-breath as it enters your nostrils, travels down to your lungs and causes your belly to expand. And notice each out-breath as your belly contracts and air moves up through the lungs back up through the nostrils or mouth. Invite your full attention to flow with your breath.

Notice how the inhale is different from the exhale. You may experience the air as cool as it enters your nose and warm as you exhale. As you turn more deeply inward, begin to let go of noises around you. If you are distracted by sounds in the room, simply notice them and then bring your intention back to your breath. Simply breathe as you breathe, not striving to change anything about your breath. Don't try to control your breath in any way. Observe and accept your experience in this moment without judgment, paying attention to each inhale and exhale.

Script written by Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, for UW Cultivating Well-Being: A Neuroscientific Approach

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script 

Begin by finding a comfortable position either sitting or lying down in a location where you will not be interrupted. Many people find just sitting in a comfortable chair or on the couch a good position to start with. All your attention will be to focus only on your body. If you begin to notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the muscle you are working on. It’s perfectly okay and you should accept that your mind will wander during this exercise. Just bring it back to the muscles you’re working on when you realize you’re thinking about something other than this exercise. Take a deep breath through your abdomen, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly. As you breathe notice your stomach rising, and your lungs filling with air. Take your time and just spend a minute or two breathing and noticing your breathing. As you exhale, imagine the tension in your body being released and flowing out of your body.

And again inhale… and exhale.

Feel your body already relaxing.

As you go through each step, remember to keep breathing normally. Try not to hold your breath.

Now let’s begin. Tighten the muscles in your forehead by raising your eyebrows as high as you can. Hold for about five seconds. And abruptly release feeling that tension fall away. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Now smile widely, feeling your mouth and cheeks tense. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release, appreciating the softness in your face. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Next, tighten your eye muscles by squinting your eyelids tightly shut. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Gently pull your head back as if to look at the ceiling. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release, feeling the tension melting away. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath. Now feel the weight of your relaxed head and neck sink. Breath in… and breath out…Let go of all the stress...Breath in… and breath out…

Now, tightly, but without straining, clench your right fist and hold this position for about 5 seconds… and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Now, feel the tension in your right forearm and hand. Feel that buildup of tension. You may even visualize that set of muscles tightening. Hold for about 5 seconds… and release, enjoying that feeling of limpness. Breath in… and breath out…

Now, feel the tension in your entire right arm. Feel that buildup of tension. Tense your entire right arm. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now lift your shoulders up as if they could touch your ears. Hold for about 5 seconds, and quickly release, feeling their heaviness. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath. Let go of all the stress…Breath in… and breath out…

 

Now, tightly, but without straining, clench your left fist and hold this position for about 5 seconds… and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now, feel the tension in your left forearm and hand. Feel that buildup of tension. You may even visualize that set of muscles tightening. Hold for about 5 seconds… and release, enjoying that feeling of limpness. Breath in… and breath out…

Now, feel the tension in your entire left arm. Feel that buildup of tension. Tense your entire left arm, feeling the tension.

Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now lift your shoulders up as if they could touch your ears. Hold for about 5 seconds, and quickly release, feeling their heaviness. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Tense your upper back by pulling your shoulders back trying to make your shoulder blades touch. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

Tighten your chest by taking a deep breath in, hold for about 5 seconds, and exhale, blowing out all the tension.

 

Now tighten the muscles in your stomach by sucking in. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Gently arch your lower back. Hold for about 5 seconds… and relax. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath. Feel the limpness in your upper body letting go of the tension and stress, hold for about 5 seconds, and relax.

 

Tighten your buttocks. Hold for about 5 seconds… and release, imagine your hips falling loose. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Feel the tension in your entire right leg and thigh. Hold for about 5 seconds… and relax. Feel the tension melting away from your leg. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now flex your right foot, pulling your toes towards you and feeling the tension in your calves. Hold for about 5 seconds… and relax, feel the weight of your legs sinking down. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Feel the tension in your entire left leg and thigh. Hold for about 5 seconds… and relax. Feel the tension melting away from your leg. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now flex your left foot, pulling your toes towards you and feeling the tension in your calves. Hold for about 5 seconds… and relax, feel the weight of both of your legs sinking down. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Curl your toes under tensing your feet. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 5-10 seconds, and just breath.

 

Now imagine a wave of relaxation slowly spreading through your body beginning at your head and going all the way down to your feet. Each wave feels warm and comforting. Your body is completely relaxed.

 

Feel the weight of your relaxed body.

Breath in… and breath out…

Breath in… and breath out…

 

As you breathe notice your stomach rising, and your lungs filling with air. Take your time and just spend a minute or two breathing and noticing your breathing. As you exhale, imagine the tension in your body being released and flowing out of your body. And again inhale… and exhale. Feel your body full relaxed now. You are done and feeling completely relaxed.

5-4-3-2-1

Start with conscious breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Continue this pattern until you find your thoughts slowing down.

 

5. Acknowledge 5 THINGS around you that you can SEE. Maybe it is a clock on the wall, carpet on the floor, a table or chair, clouds moving past, or a nearby tree. However big or small, recognize 5 items you can see with your eyes.

 

4.  Acknowledge 4 THINGS around you that you can TOUCH. Maybe it is your computer at work, the chair you are sitting on, your legs or hair, or your wallet or purse. Recognize 4 items you can feel with your hands or body.

 

3. Acknowledge 3 THINGS around you that you can HEAR. Maybe it is the sound of people talking or walking, the laughter of children, birds chirping. Use your fine tuning and see if you can hear ambient sounds you may not normally tune into – the hum of fans or the AC, clocks ticking, cars going by. Name 3 things that are audible to you.

 

2. Acknowledge 2 THINGS around you that you can SMELL. This one may be tricky if you are not in a stimulating environment, so if you cannot automatically sniff something out, walk nearby to find a scent. You might walk to a bathroom to smell soap, outside to smell something in nature, lean over and smell a pillow on the couch, a pencil on the desk, or check to see how your deodorant is working today. Whatever it may be, take in the smells around you. If you are not in a place where you can comfortably walk around, name 2 THINGS you have positive or neutral associations with and describe their smells. 

 

1. Acknowledge 1 THING that you can TASTE. It might be the aftertaste of coffee, gum or your last meal. Or take a sip of water or grab a snack if it is handy. You can also describe something you ate earlier in the day. I also recommend taking an additional deep breath when done.

References

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script written by Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, for UW Cultivating Well-Being: A Neuroscientific Approach