If you are feeling anxious or stressed or having difficulties sleeping, relaxation techniques can be useful in helping to calm your mind and body.

The following are some relaxation techniques you can try. Ideally, if you can, practise one or more of them on a daily basis. The techniques are designed to help you switch off and take your mind away from the immediate thoughts which might otherwise preoccupy you, so don’t use the exercises in any environment where for health or safety reasons you need to concentrate fully on another task, e.g. when driving or when operating machinery or using potentially dangerous equipment or tools!

To prepare yourself for each exercise, find somewhere comfortable, where you will not be disturbed and sit or lie in a position which you find comfortable.


Shut your eyes and start counting backwardS from a number of your choosing. This might be say, 30 or 40, or whatever number you feel is realistic for you in the time frame you have allocated for the exercise. I would suggest that you don’t set yourself too high a number if you feel that you will not be able to keep this up on a regular basis. It is better to build up gradually from a relatively low starting point than to set yourself a target that you are unlikely to be able to keep up. If you do find yourself losing impetus, then lower the target number.

Count backwards in the following way:

• Breathe in slowly and deeply, filling your lungs (if you are breathing in a relaxed way from your diaphragm, ideally your stomach should be filling out as you breathe rather than your upper chest).
• After your in-breath has finished, breathe out in the same slow, relaxed measured, manner.
• At the end of your out-breath say to yourself the number you have reached.
• Once your breath has expired you will naturally begin to breathe in again, without having to force yourself. Allow this natural process to take place and repeat the in-breath, followed by the out-breath, followed by the next number down.
• Repeat this process until you have reached zero. You can if you wish, then repeat the whole process again, starting from your target number.

NB. If you find at any time or times that you lose count of where you are or that your concentration wanders, just draw yourself back into the exercise and resume counting at the last point you can remember.


For this exercise lie on your back and close your eyes, then:

1. Focus your attention on your toes and how they feel!
2. Flex your toes upwards towards your face and count slowly up to 10.
3. Relax your toes.
4. Count slowly up to 10 again.
5. Repeat steps 1-4, eight to ten times.


For this exercise, decide how long you are going to do it for – perhaps 5 or 10 minutes initially, or a bit longer if you wish and have time. Once you are in the comfortable room or setting and position that you have chosen for the exercise:

Shut your eyes and imagine yourself in a place or environment that you find enjoyable, doing something relaxing and pleasurable. This will vary depending on what you as an individual like. You could, for example, be by a lake or at the sea or in beautiful scenery or you could imagine yourself socialising with good friends or on a journey. Whatever situation you choose make sure it is a harmonious one and not connected with current activities or stresses. The exercise should take you into a relaxing world.

Once you are in that relaxing world, try to imagine it in as much detail as you can – what sounds can you hear, what sensations are you experiencing in your body, who or what else is there, what is happening between yourself and others or the environment?

After the time period you allowed for the session, open your eyes and resume your normal activities.

It there is a particular calm preparatory routine (e.g. putting on particular clothing, having a drink of water or lighting an incense candle) which you can establish and repeat so that you associate it with doing whichever relaxation exercise(s) you choose, then this can also help to engender the relaxation – however, avoid ingesting substances which might alter your mood or create health risks as part of the routine, except under medical advice, as these may have detrimental effects (for example, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or other drugs).

Author's Bio: 

David Bonham-Carter, MA, DipSW, CPE is an international life coach and stress consultant with over 15 years experience in the field of personal change management who has been featured on BBC radio giving expert life coaching advice.

Life Coach London, Bristol, UK and Worldwide.

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