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Relaxation Exercises

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Certain breathing exercises and body muscle relaxation exercises help reduce stress.

Practice relaxation exercises 10 to 20 minutes a day.

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By Helen Kirwan-Taylor Many years ago I had a falling-out with a girlfriend that proved so painful, I can hardly talk about it today. My friend (let's call her Mary) was a colorful television personality and had the world at her feet. She was engaged to a handsome European, and her face was plastered across the newspapers. I was working for 60 Minutes at the time, and we often met for lunch. Then one day her show was canceled and she asked me - casually, as though it didn't really matter...

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  • Tell others in your house that you are going to practice your relaxation exercises. Ask them not to disturb you.
  • Do your exercises in a comfortable place, away from all distractions and noise.
  • Lie down on your back or sit with your back straight.
  • Concentrate on your breathing. Make it slow and steady.
  • Inhale through your nose. Exhale through either your nose or mouth.
  • Breathe deeply, filling up the area between your navel and your rib cage. Do not breathe with your chest.
  • Do not hold your breath.
  • Continue this breathing pattern for 5 to 10 minutes. Notice the feeling of calmness throughout your whole body.

As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, relax by doing the following for another 5 to 10 minutes:

  • Tighten and relax each muscle in your body. You can begin at your toes and work your way up to your head.
  • Imagine your muscle groups relaxing and becoming heavy.
  • Empty your mind of all thoughts.
  • Allow yourself to relax more and more deeply.
  • Become aware of the state of calmness that surrounds you.

When your time is over, you can bring yourself back to alertness by moving your fingers and toes, then your hands and feet, stretching and moving your entire body. Sometimes people fall asleep during relaxation. They usually wake up shortly afterward.

During relaxation, you can play soothing, relaxing music.

Always give yourself time to return to full alertness before you drive a car or do other activities that might cause an accident if you are not fully alert. Never play a relaxation tape while driving a car.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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