A Targeted Relaxation Technique
Try these relaxation techniques that target specific parts of the body:
The Five Finger Exercise
- In a relaxing chair, sit back and take a few deep breaths.
- Next, establish an easy, regular breathing pattern.
- Take in a deep breath and as you exhale, touch your index finger to your thumb. Imagine a time when your body felt a healthy tired, like how you felt after a good tennis match, or just stepping out of a hot tub or sauna....
- Now, take another good deep breath, and as you exhale, touch middle finger to your thumb. Imagine a time when you had an especially loving experience, when you felt warm and safe. Take a moment to really feel that same feeling as vividly as you had experienced it....
- Next, take another deep breath, and as you exhale, touch your ring finger to your thumb and imagine a time when you performed especially well, when you aced something that was important to you. Take that feeling of accomplishment in now and feel it as fully now as you did then...
- Lastly, take one more very deep breath in and as you exhale, touch your little finger to your thumb and as you do, imagine seeing the most beautiful place you have ever experienced...or imagine how you would feel being there now...Take a moment to fully absorb the fullness of what you feel being there.... and when you're entirely ready, and bringing with you all of these same feelings for the rest of your day, come back...
Practice Progressive Relaxation
In the early 1920’s, Edmund Jacobson developed a method called Progressive Relaxation. Jacobson was one of the first to measure the electrical activity of the muscles. He believed that anxiety showed itself through tension in the muscles, and he believed that if we could reduce our muscular response, then we would also reduce the amount of stress in our bodies.
This is a relatively straightforward relaxation technique and is widely used today. It requires very little imagination or willpower. Practicing this technique will quiet a racing mind or heart and will help you to focus and concentrate better.
This technique teaches the difference between tension and relaxation as many have come to associate the tension of every day life to be entirely normal. Many have forgotten what it is to truly relax.
This relaxation approach involves tightening and then relaxing various muscle groups throughout the body, a little bit at a time. One group of muscles is worked on and then, slowly, the next.
It does work best when you can coordinate inhalation of breath with the tightening of the muscle phase and then controlled exhalation with the relaxation phase.
- Tighten your left fist, slowly, inhaling as you do.
- Hold the tension now, about 5 seconds, continuing to inhale and focus on the feelings of tension.
- Really focus on what the tension feels like.
- Feel the burn, the lightness, the tightness and the restriction.
- Label how the tension feels in your mind.
- Now just let go, slowly, and relax, exhaling all of the stale tension and air.
- Notice any of the relaxation sensations, label those.
- Slowly exhale as you name those sensations of relaxation, utter relaxation.
Whatever terms you can think of to label the feeling, and then relax, slowly, exhaling as you do.
Repeat the same technique for the right fist.
As you feel the change and are totally relaxed, move on to the next muscle group.
Go with about 15- 30 seconds per contraction/relaxation cycle.
If relaxation imagery appeals to you during this technique, go ahead and imagine what you can to the feelings of both tension and to extreme relaxation.
It is important to compare and contrast the differences you feel from tension to relaxation.
Try doing one entire side of your body and then the other.