Each individual will have unique ways to relax. Explore various options, ranging from easy relaxation techniques to more challenging relaxation exercises. There is no right or wrong way to relax, and no one technique that will work for everyone, so find out which ones work the best for you.
Relaxation is a skill. This means that relaxation is something that can be learned and practiced, it is something we are not necessarily just born knowing how to do (not everyone knows how to relax), and we often are not good at it at first. Each person has the ability to learn how to relax, but not everyone will relax the same way.
Everyone can learn to relax. This means that even if some of these techniques don’t work for you, at least one will! You will be able to find some way to relax, and with practice, relaxation will become easier.
Here is an overview of some of the techniques you might want to try:
Progressive Relaxation – progressively tensing and then relaxing muscle groups – by progressive, I mean one muscle group after another… the relaxation progresses through the body. Passive progressive relaxation is the act of relaxing muscles progressively without tensing them first. If you are already very tense, this method might be best (tightening up already-tight muscles can cause muscle cramping).
Physical Techniques – includes progressive muscle relaxation; also stretching, yoga, tai chi, pilates and other physical techniques.
Visualization – visualizing something for relaxation or making positive changes, such as picturing in your mind a relaxing scene.
Guided Imagery – the process of being guided through calming or helpful mental images, such as calming scenes, the healing process, or positive changes.
Autogenics – imagining that your limbs are warm and heavy, your heart rate is slow and steady, and your forehead is cool.
Meditation – focusing the mind on a word, phrase, or idea and letting go of other thoughts with an attitude of passive acceptance for relaxation or making positive changes.
Sensory – experiencing or imagining the sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and/or touch.
Deep breathing – breathing slowly and regularly and taking sufficiently deep breaths.
Other methods – exercise, massage, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, crafts, hobbies, dance, music, conscious mental rest, artwork, walking….. etc.
The best way to find out which relaxation methods work best for you is to try them. Guided relaxation audio allows you to follow along and be guided through a relaxation technique. You may not feel any different at first, but by doing a relaxation technique, you experience all the health benefits of relaxation!
The relaxation methods discussed on this page can be used with biofeedback instruments to increase the effectiveness of relaxation.
See the biofeedback page to find out what biofeedback is, why it can be useful, and how to do some biofeedback at home – without expensive equipment – to measure your physical level of relaxation.
Next Steps for Learning Relaxation Techniques
Still not sure which relaxation methods to try? Check out our relaxation quiz to see what kinds of relaxation might work best for you.
For more in-depth information on how relaxation works physiologically, how to implement relaxation exercises, and some relaxation audio you can use to practice, you may be interested in:
- What is Relaxation?
- Tips to Relax (tips for practicing relaxation exercises)
- Experience Relaxation Therapy (try basic relaxation techniques)
- Relaxation Downloads (free audio and video downloads)
- Relaxation Advice (tips, Q&A)
- Relaxation Examples (what to do for specific relaxation methods)
- Inner Health Studio Relaxation and Self-Help Store (relaxation books and audio)