Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques

We all get stressed out at times; it’s part of life. However, it does help to know a few stress-busting, quick relaxation tricks to fall back on when the going gets tough.

Stress and relaxation

Stress has a definite body-mind connection. What we do to relax our bodies will positively impact our minds, and vice versa. There are a legion of relaxation techniques that we can employ to balance stress and its effects through this body-mind connection. Although the stress might not disappear immediately, being relaxed and grounded will make it easier to deal with it.

The following relaxation techniques may be just what you need:

Deep breathing

All relaxation techniques combine deep breathing with relaxing the muscles. When we are stressed we tend to take shallow breaths that hinder the uptake and flow of oxygen to our brains and other parts of our bodies.

You can do deep breathing exercises anywhere and at any time when you start feeling stressed out. Just start breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose while counting from one to five and let the breath escape slowly, counting from one to five again. Keep going until you start feeling calmer.

Deep muscle relaxation

With this relaxation technique you stretch different muscles in turn and then relax them, to release tension. Muscle tension is a common symptom of stress and contracted tense muscles not only limit movement and energy flow in the body but may also worsen the fatigue that often accompanies chronic stress.

Autogenic training (AT)

Autogenic means “generated from within”. AT is a technique that teaches you to self-produce a feeling of warmth and heaviness throughout your body, thereby experiencing a profound state of physical relaxation, bodily health and mental peace.


Massage is probably the oldest therapy known to man, and it is a simple yet very effective technique against stress. It reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, relaxes tense muscles and calms the mind. Combining massage with carefully selected essential oils can work to soothe all the senses.


Reiki, although similar to massage, is actually an energy exercise that aims to revitalise the life force and balances the body’s energies. The reiki practitioner “opens” him- or herself as a channel for the universal life energy to pass through the body and into the hands. Reiki is said to be very effective in the treatment of headaches and lowered immunity, but also has great benefits for the treatment of anxiety and to enhance mental clarity.


Meditation enables you to reach a deep state of calmness while remaining fully alert. Because the brain waves during meditation are similar to those during sleep, it can be a useful aid in treating insomnia. Other health benefits are improved circulation, lower blood pressure, better memory and better concentration. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes and concentrate only on your deep breathing. Block out all other thoughts, feelings and sensations.


It’s a really easy and effective technique similar to meditation. You “transport” yourself and your mood to somewhere relaxing and calm while listening to your own deep breathing and taking your mind off whoever or whatever is causing you stress.


Yoga has been described as “moving meditation”. Yoga postures exercise the whole body, also the internal organs. While doing the postures, the practitioner focuses on breathing throughout. This leads to a deep feeling of calm and tranquillity that balances energy and is mentally soothing.


People have used water as a way to calm moods and relax muscles for centuries. A warm bath filled with relaxing spa products or just plain sea salt and bicarbonate of soda will relieve muscle pain and tension and help you relax.

Sound therapy

Music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on both your mind and your body, so make use of it to help you relax. Slow, quiet or soothing classical music is particularly good and can help slow your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure and decrease your levels of stress hormones. Sounds from nature such as water dripping or moving or waves breaking on the shore, birds singing or the wind blowing gently also induce a sense of peace.


Alexander, J. 1999. The Five Minute Healer. Gaia Books
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Harris, S. Top 10 quick and easy ways to relax. Retrieved from:
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Selby, A. 2009. Quick and easy stress busters. Duncan Baird Publishers

Revised by M van Os