Stress Reduction Exercises

Woman doing yoga on grass with trees in background

These exercises are simple to learn, but it takes some time to become proficient at them. This is a form of biofeedback and functional muscle relaxation techniques. Once they are learned, these exercises can be done anywhere, at any time.

Stress Reduction:
A Progressive Relaxation Exercise

1. Find a quiet place with soft lighting. Sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, eyes closed.

2. Become aware of your breathing.

3. Take a few deep breaths, and as you let out each one, mentally say, “relax”

4. Concentrate on your face, feeling any tension in your face and eyes. Make a mental picture of this tension-such as a rope tied in a knot or a clenched fist-and then mentally picture it relaxing or being untied and becoming comfortable, lying limp, like a relaxed rubber band.

5. Experience your face and eyes becoming relaxed. As they relax, feel a wave of relaxation spreading throughout your body.

6. Tense your eyes and face, squeezing tightly, then relax and feel the relaxation spreading throughout your body.

7. Apply the previous instructions to other parts of your body, slowly down your body-jaw, neck, shoulders, back, upper and lower arms, hands, chest, abdomen, thighs, calves, ankles, feet, toes-until every part of your body is relaxed. Mentally picture the tension in each part of the body, then picture the tension melting away; tense the area, and then relax.

8. After you have relaxed each part of your body, rest quietly in this comfortable state for two to five minutes.

9. Now let the muscles in your eyelids lighten and prepare to open your eyes and become aware of the room.

10. Open your eyes. You are ready to continue with the day’s activities, refreshed and relaxed.


Source: Alternative Medicine, p. 853:
Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Vol.2,No.4, July/August 1996