Skip to main content

Relaxation Exercises

Research shows that facing stress is much healthier than running away from it. Relaxation exercises are designed using psychological theories. They are created to help you tackle your stress head on, rather than avoid or ignore it.

These techniques help you learn how to relax your body and mind. They are simple and easy to do every day on your own - especially when you experience stress. Remember, stress is incompatible with relaxation. You can’t feel both at the same time.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when doing these exercises:

Below are highly effective relaxation techniques. Each includes brief information on each exercise and an audio clip to guide you through the technique.

Deep breathing regulates the physiological fight/flight response that we experience when we are stressed.

Deep breathing is an exercise that is always available – you can take it with you anytime, anywhere.

Square breathing is a deep breathing technique. The diagram below illustrates the breath cycle. Try to make inhales and exhales last for the full count, instead of ending before the count is over. If you start to feel dizzy or faint, reduce the count but follow the same pattern. Attempt to breathe into your belly, not your chest, for maximum benefit. For example, try putting your hand over your belly when you breathe, and feel it rise when you inhale and fall as you exhale.

 

 

One way our bodies respond to anxiety is with muscle tension. This type of physical stress reaction intensifies our overall experience of anxiety. On the positive side, creating physiological relaxation leads to psychological relaxation.

In this exercise, you will:

You can play the audio for this exercise below.

 

Mindfulness has three main points:

To keep in mind when practicing mindfulness:

You can play the audio for the exercise below.

This is an exercise for temporary stress management around specific issues. For example, you may have difficulty studying for an exam because you are so overwhelmed by all the other academic and non-academic stressors in your life. Adopted from Kate Young, Ph.D., this exercise will help you focus on one thing at a time, and will give you a sense of control over your worries.

You can play the audio for this exercise below.

 

Guided Imagery is a technique that allows you to create and experience a calm place in your mind. It is a powerful way to take control and remove yourself from mental stress. It also helps reduce negative thoughts and feelings, such as being overwhelmed.

 
Guided Imagery: Forest

You can play the audio for this exercise below.

 

 

Guided Imagery: Beach

You can play the audio for this exercise below.