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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Stress management

Do-it-yourself relaxation

Through the ages, people have turned to calm and quiet meditation to draw tension from their bodies. And studies done by Harvard Medical School say relaxation techniques really work when done correctly. Two worth trying:

  • Relaxation response. Every day, go alone to a quiet place. Sit with eyes closed and focus your thoughts on your breathing until it becomes even and slow. Use four counts to inhale, pause, then exhale four counts. At the same time, repeat one word to yourself such as “calm” or “slow.” Practice daily; soon it will become effortless.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Find a quiet spot and sit or lie comfortably with eyes closed. One by one, tense your muscle groups for 10 seconds, then release them. Start by scrunching your cheeks, eyes and eyebrows into a knot, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Next, shrug your shoulders, hold and release. Then tense and release your fists, arms, stomach, buttocks, legs and toes. As you release, feel the warmth from your muscles. Imagine “seeing” your stress evaporate.