Visualization, sensory, creative, and muscle relaxation examples are provided here. The lists are not exhaustive; you can probably think of several more examples for each category.
It is important to find the kinds of relaxation that work for you. These lists provide a starting point for various ideas that you can try. You will surely find that some of the relaxation examples are very helpful, and others do not work for you. This is to be expected.
For more information about your relaxation preferences, find out whether passive or active forms of relaxation may be right for you with this quiz, entitled Active or Passive Relaxation: which type suits you best?
The results of this quiz can help to clarify which examples in each category may work best for you. Keep the results of this quiz in mind when looking at the examples below.
Enjoy finding new ways to relax.
Visualization can include a variety of ways of using your imagination. Some forms of visualization rely heavily on the imagination, while others are guided so some details are provided, through descriptions, audio, and/or video. If your scores on the relaxation quiz were high in the visualization category, you probably already use your imagination to relax. If your scores on the relaxation quiz were lower, you would probably benefit from trying some guided visualization exercises.
Here are some relaxation examples of ways to use visualization:
- Watch a video of a place you would like to be (on a beach, flying through the clouds, traveling, sitting by a relaxing campfire, watching fish in a tank, etc) and imagine spending time there.
- Listen to a relaxation script that includes guided visualization. Use your imagination to picture the scenes described.
- Read a book, and use your imagination to visualize the characters, places, and events.
- Imagine a safe place, a calming environment, or a relaxing scene. Create all the details in your mind. Picture all the sights, sounds, and smells.
- You may want to write your own visualization relaxation script. Describe, in writing, a relaxing place. Read and record the script, and then play it back with your eyes closed. Become relaxed as you picture being in the relaxing scene.
Other examples of relaxing visualizations include imagining the following:
- floating on a cloud
- watching a burning candle
- lying on a beach
- traveling in a canoe
- sitting by a calm pool or pond
- walking by the lake
- strolling on a country road
- walking in a peaceful forest
- driving a fast car on a beautiful road
- playing a sport and doing well
- gazing at the stars
Creative Expression Relaxation
It is possible to use creative activity to relax, even if such activities are unfamiliar or you do not see yourself as a creative person. It is important to focus on the process rather than the end product. Enjoying the process of being creative can be highly therapeutic and very relaxing.
High scores in creativity on the relaxation quiz suggest that you already enjoy creative pursuits or find them relaxing. Lower scores indicate that this is an area to explore further. Some relaxation examples of ways to use creative expression to relax include:
- Do an activity that allows you to make something. Set aside enough time so you can do the task slowly and enjoy the process.
- Listen to a creative expression relaxation script that guides you to express yourself through a creative task and relax.
- Watch an instructional video and follow along with the demonstrated task.
Other specific relaxation examples of ways to relax using creativity include:
- playing a musical instrument
- writing a song
- writing a letter
- scribbling or doodling
- moving rhythmically
- drama and acting
- carpentry or woodwork
- building something
- taking an object apart and putting it back together
- digital illustration
- making videos
The senses (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell) can be powerful methods of relaxation. For those with sensory sensitivity, it can be necessary to control the levels of exposure to particular sensations. For people who enjoy sensations and find them relaxing, it is important to find ways to experience a variety of calming sensations. High quiz scores in sensory relaxation suggest tendencies to enjoy using sensory relaxation strategies. Lower scores indicate a need to explore the use of sensations for reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Some relaxation examples of how to use sensory techniques include:
- Determine which senses are the most calming for you, and which kind of sensations may provoke stress. For example, do you enjoy having music in the background while you work, or do you need a quiet environment to perform best? Do you prefer the lighting to be bright or dim? Experiment with different environments and adjust yours accordingly.
- To use senses to relax without necessarily exposing yourself to sensations directly, use a sensory relaxation script. Such a script can describe various sensations that are usually relaxing. By visualizing each sensation, relaxation is induced.
- Use your senses to promote relaxation in daily life. Enjoy participating in activities that use your vision, hearing, sense of touch, smell, or taste.
- deep pressure touch can be particularly relaxing. This can be achieved by covering up with heavy blankets, wrapping yourself tightly in a blanket, or wearing special weighted clothing.
Some specific ways to use sensation to relax:
- taking a warm bath
- applying a cool pack to your forehead or neck
- using scented candles, air fresheners, or cooking food to provide pleasing smells
- brushing your hair
- wearing soft clothing
- rolling dough
- digging in the mud
- walking barefoot in grass
- petting a dog or cat
- listening to music
- watching TV
- using colored lamps to light a room
- putting up a string of colored lights
- eating flavorful food
- adding spice to food
Muscle relaxation can involve physical tasks to release stress or engaging in progressive relaxation exercises, where muscles are consciously relaxed, one muscle group at a time. Low relaxation quiz scores in muscle relaxation suggest a lack of familiarity with engaging in muscle relaxation techniques, and the need to explore different kinds of physical muscle relaxation that may be enjoyable. High scores indicate a tendency to react physically to stress (for example, by tensing up) and the ability to use physical strategies to relax.
Relaxation examples of ways to use muscle relaxation include:
- Listen to a progressive muscle relaxation script that guides you to tense and release each muscle group.
- Follow a passive progressive muscle relaxation script that leads you to focus on releasing the muscle tension in each area of your body.
- Engage in a physical activity to release stress and promote relaxation.
Specific relaxation examples of physical strategies include:
- lifting weights
- tai chi
- playing a sport
- shake out tension
- yawn and stretch
- physical work (e.g. mowing the lawn, vacuuming, hammering)
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