Sheera LaBelle, R.N

University Health Services

Mini Relaxation Exercises

Mini relaxation exercises are focused breathing techniques, which can help to reduce anxiety and tension immediately. You can do them with your eyes open or closed. You can do them any place, at any time, and no one will know you are doing them.

Taking some time to breathe

Switch over to diaphragmatic breathing. People in industrialized societies, due to high stress levels, tend to breathe shallowly, using only a percentage of their lung capacity. This shallow breathing actually keeps your body in “go mode,” maintaining stress. Deep breathing, in contrast, shifts your body into relaxation, and increases focus while dissolving stress.

Take a deep breath, feeling your diaphragm (the large muscle sheet near the base of your ribs) expand downwards, pulling the air into your lungs. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should feel your stomach rise about an inch as you breathe in, and fall about an inch as you breathe out. If this is difficult for you, lie on your back or stomach; you will be more aware of your breathing pattern. Remember that it is impossible to breathe diaphragmatically if you are holding your stomach in, so relax your stomach muscles.

Mini Version 1

Count very slowly to yourself from 10 down to zero, one number for each breath. So, with the first deliberate diaphragmatic breath, you say “10” to yourself, with the next breath, you say “nine”, etc. If you start feeling light-headed or dizzy, slow down the counting. When you get to “zero,” see how you are feeling. If you are feeling calmer, then it is working for you– if not, try doing it again.

Mini Version 2

As you inhale, count very slowly up to four; as you exhale, count very slowly back down to one. So, as you inhale, you say to yourself ” one, two, three, four,” as you exhale, you say to yourself “four, three, two, one.” This is known as “cyclic breathing,” and is used as a tool in many meditation practices. Try this several times.

Mini Version 3

After each inhalation, pause for a few seconds; after you exhale, pause again for a few seconds. Do this for several breaths.

Taking some time to center yourself with these mini relaxation exercise can make a world of difference-calming your nerves, helping you to avoid “temper” reactions, focusing your mind, and melting away stress.

They can be done at any time you need them, like:

oWhen stuck in traffic

oWhen put on “hold” during an im portant phone call

oWhile in a waiting room

oWhen someone says something that bothers you

oAt all red lights

oWhen waiting for a phone call

oIn the dentist’s chair

oWhen you feel overwhelmed

oWhile standing in line

oWhen in pain

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