“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax”

Mark Black

In this age when busyness can be held as a badge of honour this quote is a good reminder of how sometimes less is more.

Knowing how to relax is vital to managing your stress reactions. While you cannot avoid stress in your life, you can improve the way you deal with it. As with everything planning and preparation is key! It may seem a little over dramatic to make a plan to relax, but practicing techniques and knowing what works for you could be key to helping you relax automatically when things are particularly stressful.

Relaxation is more than just crashing in front of the TV after a hard day, or dozing on your sofa. It is more about creating a quiet space and giving your mind time to breath.

These Techniques May Be Helpful:
Learn to control your breathing: Take deep breaths in and out. Controlling your breathing is something you can do anytime of the day and evening. As you breathe in notice your body and as you breathe out let your mind relax. As you breathe more deeply your blood pressure will go down and you will start to relax.

  • 3/4/5 exercise – Another technique, particularly if you are feeling anxious, is to breathe in for 3 counts. Hold your breath for 4 counts and then breathe out for 5 counts. This 3/4/5 technique can be used to help you remember to breathe deeply. Often when you are stressed or busy you take shallow breaths.

Progressive muscle relaxation: As you are sitting or lying down practice tensing and then relaxing groups of muscles. Alternatively tensing and relaxing muscles can have the effect of reducing stress levels.

  • Quick muscle exercise – close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing your muscle groups for two to three seconds each. Begin with your feet and toes, then move to your knees, your thighs, your bottom, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. In a short time you’ll feel more relaxed.

Being Aware of your surroundings in the morning:

  • On waking – keep your eyes closed and take five or six deep breaths, in through your nose and out of your mouth. Listen to your breathing and feel your body waking up.
  • Getting out of bed – as you stand take a deep breath and stretch your arms up above your head moving onto your tiptoes. As you exhale bring your hands down and put your whole foot back on the ground. Again feel your breath moving and your body waking up.
  • Having a shower – whatever your routine in the morning notice the water and the temperature and how it feels and listen to the sound of the water as you wash.
  • Making your first drink – give yourself time to think purposefully about each step as you make your first drink of the day and enjoy your first sip. Don’t let the days’ worries barge in.


Breathing exercise video