Breathing for Relaxation

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted for at least 20 minutes. It’s essential that you don’t have access to phones and other devices that can distract you. If there are others home ask them to give you quiet time so they don’t interrupt you.

2. Use ear or headphones to listen to music that you find relaxing and comforting – just instrumentals and/or sounds of nature, no lyrics. If you prefer not to listen to music, and you feel that you can relax just as effectively without it, you can skip this step.

3. Lie or sit down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Imagine that you are in a favourite place – the beach, a park while the sun is setting, on a mountain – any place you can vividly imagine and that makes you feel at peace. Work on vividly imagining it, using all your senses (smell the air, feel the breeze, hear the sounds of nature etc.)

4. Focus your attention on your breathing, allowing your chest and belly to move in and out, in and out, slowly. There is no need to take exaggerated breaths. Just breathe in a way that relaxes you. For example, breathe in for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3 and exhale for account of 3 or more.

5. Start at your feet and work your way up to your knees, hips, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders, chest, neck, and head, visualizing the blood in these areas flowing freely through relaxed muscles. You can actively think about each body part for a few seconds or however long it takes to facilitate complete relaxation.

6. At a pace that is comfortable to you, imagine the area of your body or life that you would like to see a change in. Watch that area go from its present state to how you would like it to be. Replay this transformation as many times as is comfortable. See it become better. Imagine what is happening internally to allow this change to occur. Imagine what your life is like with this change. How does this change make you feel about yourself? How is your daily routine different with this change? How does it affect your relationships? Make this change so real in your mind that you experience moments of believing that it has already happened.

7. After you have viscerally felt the change that you would like to see, you can slowly come out of your deep state of relaxation. Take a few deep breaths and do some light stretching of your spine, hips, and legs.

8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 regularly to align your thoughts and emotions with the vision that you have for your life.

Breathing to Relieve is an Anxiety Blog by Carrie Heinze-Musgrove MA, LCP, LCPC

See also Mindfulness