Skip to content

    Stress Management Health Center

    Font Size

    Stress Relief and Relaxation - Overview

    Muscle relaxation to relieve stress continued...

    Head and neck

    • Forehead: Wrinkle it into a deep frown.
    • Around the eyes and bridge of the nose: Close your eyes as tightly as possible. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before beginning the exercise.
    • Cheeks and jaws: Smile as widely as you can.
    • Around the mouth: Press your lips together tightly.
    • Back of the neck: Press your head back against the floor or chair.
    • Front of the neck: Touch your chin to your chest.

    Upper body

    • Chest: Take a deep breath and hold it, then breathe out.
    • Back: Arch your back up and away from the floor or chair.
    • Stomach: Suck it into a tight knot.

    Lower body

    • Hips and rear end (buttocks): Press the buttocks together tightly.
    • Thighs: Clench them hard.
    • Lower legs: Push your heels out and flex your toes up, as if trying to bring the toes up to touch your shins. Then point your toes away and curl them downward.

    You may feel sleepy after doing this exercise. To "wake up" your body, count backwards from 5 to 1. Then move your fingers, toes, hands, and feet. Finally, stretch and move your entire body.

    Be sure you are alert before you drive or do other activities.

    Roll breathing to relieve stress

    Roll breathing helps you use your lungs better and gets you in touch with the rhythm of your breathing. You can practice it in any position, but it's best to lie on your back, with your knees bent. Practice roll breathing daily for several weeks until you can do it almost anywhere.

    When you are roll breathing slideshow.gif, always breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe out, make a whooshing sound.

    1. Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out.
    2. Breathe in to fill your lower lungs. Your belly will push your left hand up as you do this. Your right hand won't move. Then breathe out. Your left hand will fall as your belly falls. Do this 8 to 10 times.
    3. Next, breathe in as you did before, but don't stop after your left hand pushes up. Continue to breathe in. You will feel your upper chest expand and push your right hand up. Your left hand will fall a little as your belly falls.
    4. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. As you breathe out, feel the tension leaving your body. Both your hands will fall.
    5. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice how your belly and chest move like waves, rising and falling in a steady motion.
    6. Notice how you feel after you breathe this way.

    Caution: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to breathe very fast or become lightheaded, slow your breathing. Get up slowly.

    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.
    1 | 2
    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Stress Relief and Relaxation Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Hands breaking pencil in frustration
    stethoscope and dollars
    Woman with stressed, fatigue
    fatigued woman
    hand gripping green rubber ball
    family counseling
    stress at work
    frayed rope

    WebMD Special Sections