5 Step Peaceful Relaxation Exercise
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place.
- Take 3 deep breaths.
- Shrug your shoulders strongly.
- Hold for 10 seconds and notice the tension in your muscles.
- Let your shoulders back down slowly and notice all the tension leave your muscles.
Let's go into more detail about the steps in this peaceful relaxation exercise:
Sit or lie down in a comfortable and quiet place. Eventually, you can use this peaceful relaxation exercise almost anywhere. For now, practice in the quietest, most comfortable place you can.
Take 3 deep breaths. Do this with your eyes closed and your head facing forward forward. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose letting your chest and stomach puff out. Hold the air in for a second or two and then let it out slowly through your nose.
Shrug your shoulders as high and strong as you can while continuing to breathe deeply.
Hold for 10 seconds. During these 10 seconds, focus all your attention on the tightness in your shoulder muscles. Try not to have strong feelings. Just notice the tension in your shoulder muscles as if you were a calm and curious observer. Continue to breathe deeply as you do this.
Let your shoulders back down slowly while you continue to breathe deeply. Now concentrate your attention on the tension leaving your muscles. Notice the softness of your relaxing muscles.
Try these 5 steps with other muscles in your body. For example, you can flex your biceps muscles one at a time (in the classic “make a muscle” pose). You can also clench your fists and then relax them using the same 5 steps above.
This exercise is nothing new and I didn't invent it. In the medical field, we refer to it as Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
A lot of scientific research has been done on it. That research has found that there are a lot of potential benefits in using progressive muscle relaxation, mostly for reducing stress. It has also been shown as a way to reduce cravings for cigarettes, prevent headaches and lower blood pressure.
If you practice this relaxation exercise enough, you can begin using it almost anywhere. You can develop a tool for creating moments of peacefulness.
Dr. Benjamin Williamson is a board-certified psychiatrist. He earned his medical degree (M.D.) from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan where he also completed his residency training in psychiatry. He currently practices psychiatry in coastal North Carolina. In his free time he enjoys surfing, organizing activities related to ocean conservation and Vipassana meditation.
Disclaimer: Creating peacefulness is not easy and requires a commitment to training. What we are offering is an "on ramp" to the path toward peacefulness. You can experience some benefits right away, but you will benefit more and more the longer you travel on the road.