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Relaxation Techniques

    A. Abdominal breathing

    B. Muscle Relaxation

    C. Peaceful Heart Exercise

Distraction Techniques


Relaxation Tapes


A. Abdominal breathing 

1.  Breathe in through your nose slowly to the count of five (count slowly as you inhale).

2.  Pause and hold your breath to a count of five.

3.  Breathe out slowly through your nose or mouth to the count of five (or more if it takes you longer). Be sure to exhale fully.

4.  When you’ve exhaled completely, take two breaths in your normal rhythm, then repeat steps one through three above.

5.  Keep up the exercise for at least three to five minutes. Allow yourself to count higher as you go on, if this occurs naturally. If you start to feel light-headed, stop for 30 seconds and then start again.

6.  Throughout the exercise, keep your breathing smooth and regular, without gulping in breaths or breathing out suddenly.

7.  Optional: Each time you exhale, you may wish to say “Relax,” “Calm,” “Let go,” or any other relaxing word or phrase silently to yourself. Allow your whole body to let go as you do this. If you keep up this practice, eventually just saying the relaxing word by itself will bring on a mild state of relaxation.

Extend this exercise by doing the following:

1.    Focus on an area or sensation inside if your body for about thirty seconds.

2.    Shift your focus to an object in your immediate environment, and hold this  focus for about thirty seconds.

3.    Alternate six times. 

B. Muscle Relaxation 

1.  Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor slightly apart and your hands resting on your knees (if it is more comfortable, lie on the floor in the relaxation position, which is: lying flat on your back with your arms beside and a small distance away from your body, palms facing upwards, your legs straight and a little bit apart, feet falling outwards, chin tucked in a little so your nose is not sticking up in the air and your neck is straight, mouth closed and tongue resting behind your teeth with your eyes closed. 

2.  Work your way through your body tensing and relaxing each part – beginning with your hands. 

3.  Clench your left hand into a fist as tight as you can and hold it for a few seconds. Relax the clenched hand so it feels floppy. Tense and release your forearm, and then your upper arm the same way. 

4.  Tense and relax your other hand and arm the same way. 

5.  Move through each body part, tensing and relaxing each of your muscles (some parts will be easier to tense and relax than others). 

6.  When you have tensed and relaxed all of your muscles, lie quietly for a moment and take several deep breaths with a long slow exhale. 

7.  Wriggle your toes. 

8.  Stretch your arms and hands. 

9.  Open your eyes.

C. Peaceful Heart Exercise 

This exercise is designed to help you amplify the power of your heart and the power of your mind to bring you a sense of peace. Practice for five to fifteen minutes. 

Step 1  Find a quiet place and close your eyes. 

Step 2  Shift your attention away from the mind or head and focus your attention on the heart area. Imagine that you are breathing slowly through the heart for ten to fifteen seconds. 

Step 3  Remember the feeling of love or care you have for someone whom it’s easy to love. Try to stay with that feeling for a five to fifteen minutes. 

Step 4  Gently send that feeling of love, care, or appreciation to yourself. 

Step 5  As distracting thoughts come in, bring your focus back to the area around the heart. If this is difficult, try to feel a softness in the heart area. Continue this practice for five to fifteen minutes.

Distraction Techniques  

Anything that demands intense focus of our thoughts can be a wonderful relief from awareness of our withdrawal symptoms. 

Easy puzzles, crafts, gardening (even just pulling weeds), video games, light and/or comic movies, TV, easy bouldering at a rock-climbing gym, if applicable, and even housecleaning.   


“The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook” by Edmund Bourne 

“Hope and Help For Your Nerves” by Claire Weekes 

“Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn 

“Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome” by Dinah Bradley  (for those who have this issue)

 Relaxation Tapes

Anything by Belleruth Naparstek 

“Meditations for Relaxation and Stress Reduction” audiotape by Joan Borysenko


http://www.audiodharma.org/talks-intromed.html An Introduction to Meditation – Talks and guided meditations.



Disclaimer:  The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.

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Last updated 21 July 2020