3 Easy Relaxation Exercises

One of the best things that you can do for your health is to learn some simple exercises for relaxation. Relaxation techniques help to keep your body calm and improve your ability to deal with stress. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach: there are a variety of techniques available. Read on for an overview of each type so that you can decide which of the relaxation techniques will be right for you. For best results, practice two to three times a day, for at least 10 minutes at a time.


Visualization for Relaxation

Businessman relaxing with eyes closed
Relaxing with visualization just takes a few minutes. Hero Images/Getty Images

Visualization exercises use the power of the imagination to bring about a state of relaxation. Visualization taps into our right brains, thus quieting our oh-so-busy left brains and redirecting us away from all of our worries, concerns and to-do lists. Visualization exercises are like a vacation for the mind, as you imagine yourself in a place that represents beauty and serenity for you. It can be a place you have actually been to or just a place in your imagination. Visualization exercises are best done in a quiet setting.


Deep Breathing Exercises

Woman relaxing at desk at work.
Deep breathing exercises can be done any place, any time. Hero Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Of all of the relaxation exercises, deep breathing exercises are the most practical because you can use them whenever you need them. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing shifts your body away from its tendency to deal with stress through quick, shallow breaths. Slowing the breath down signals to your brain that all is calm, thus turning off the body's natural stress response. With regular practice, you can get to the point where taking a few deeps breaths brings about significant anxiety relief in an instant.


Muscle Relaxation Exercises

Man relaxing on a recliner.
You can work to actively relax all your muscles any time you can find a quiet moment. Andy Crawford/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Progressive muscle relaxation is a way to systematically relax all of the muscles in your body. This reduces unnecessary muscle tension and saves your energy for the things that really matter. With practice, just telling yourself to relax can quickly make your body be as loose as a rag doll. Muscle relaxation exercises should be done in a comfortable chair. Don't do them in bed as you want to teach your body to relax - not to fall asleep! Doing them right before bed is an excellent idea as a more relaxed body will sleep better.

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