Therapists explain breathing and relaxation techniques you can use at home and work

by Sarah Graham
Wednesday 18 February 2015
163 0

Many of us live busy, stressful lives, and you may find it difficult to find time for your mental wellbeing. Even just stopping and taking a moment to breathe, or be mindful of what's going on in the present moment, is easily forgotten in the rush of everyday life. We asked two RSCPP therapists to explain some simple breathing and relaxation techniques that you can use anywhere, at any time, to help you soothe yourself in times of stress, and bring your focus back to your mental wellbeing.

 

1. Notice your breathing

This simple exercise can aid relaxation and concentration. Even 3 or 4 minutes can make a difference; and be really helpful in relieving stress both at home and at work. Breathing naturally and gently, bring your attention to how your belly expands a little as you breathe in and contracts again as you breathe out. (Putting the palm of your hand on your belly can help you focus.) Try to keep your attention on breathing from your belly. Notice when your attention begins to wander - as it will - and gently bring it back to your breathing again. However busy your day, it's not difficult to fit this in and can be so beneficial.

 

2. Relax from your feet to your head 

Lie or sit down comfortably with a straight back. Take a few deep breaths. The out breath should be longer than the in-breath. Close your eyes. Focus on your feet. Relax your feet. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your lower legs. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your thighs/upper legs. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your buttocks. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your lower back, middle back and upper back. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your shoulders. Lift your shoulders and drop them a few times. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your arms, hands, fingers. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your neck. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your head, face, forehead, eyes, nose, mouth. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Relax your chest. Feel the muscles becoming softer and more relaxed. Feel your whole body is softer and more relaxed. Stay relaxed as long as you wish. (recommended 15-20mins.) Slowly move your toes and fingers and open your eyes.

 

3. Strengthen your heart

Another wonderfully relaxing technique is called heart strengthening. Sit comfortably with your back straight. Close your eyes. Relax your whole body. Touch your heart at the centre of your chest. Smile to your heart. Feel the calmness and stay within the gentle feelings from the heart. (Based on Smile to your heart meditations by Irmansyah Effendi.)

Registered Counsellor and Psychotherapist Esmee Rotmans


Finding support


If you are concerned about the issues raised in this article then you may like to read about finding the right therapist for you. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

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Updated 18 February 2015