Relaxation techniques are simple activities designed to reduce the mental and physical effects of stress. Left unchecked, chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body, increasing your risk of depression, anxiety, weight gain, digestive problems, memory impairment and sleep issues. Stress reduction is just as essential as healthy eating and exercise, and everyone should strive to incorporate relaxation into their daily lives. If you are unfamiliar with relaxation techniques, try one of these three simple methods to get started:

1. Deep breathing

Deep breathing as a relaxation tool involves more than taking a few deep breaths. Your goal is to focus all your attention and your senses on your breathing. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your mouth. Notice what happens to your body. How does your chest feel? Does your abdomen expand? Hold the breath momentarily, then slowly exhale through your mouth. What does your breath sound like? How does your body feel?

You may feel a bit corny at first, but the goal is to concentrate on your breathing rather than all the stressors that worry you all day. If you’re having trouble focusing, follow along with this YouTube video that teaches the 4-7-8 method (breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and breathe out for eight). Even just a few minutes of deep breathing can leave you feeling calmer, clear-headed and ready to tackle what’s ahead.


2. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) relieves tension in your muscles. Starting at your toes and working all the way up to your head, slowly tense one muscle group at a time as you inhale, hold it a few seconds, and then release your muscles as you exhale. Try this with your toes, calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, hands, forearms, shoulders and face. PMR has the potential to reduce blood pressure and relieve body tension.

3. Physical grounding

Grounding is a way of detaching from emotional pain, and it’s an effective way to get people suffering from anxiety or PTSD to focus on the here-and-now rather than their overwhelming feelings. However, anyone can use it as a stress reduction technique.

Physical grounding involves focusing all your intention on something within your current physical space. Pick up a small object near you, and describe it in as many ways as you can. How big is it, what does it feel like, what does it smell like, what color is it, etc. Or wiggle your toes in your shoes. What do you feel? Describe it in as much detail as you can. Focusing your attention on something physical can help you calm down before returning to whatever you were doing beforehand.


There are many ways to relax, and these are just a few that can be done easily at any time, in any place, in just a few minutes. It doesn’t matter what method you choose, as long as it works for you and you incorporate it into your everyday life.