Relax Now! Quick and Simple Steps

When I feel tense or worried I am grateful when there are quick and easy ways to relax and calm myself.

Why?  I don’t often have twenty minutes to go through a complete body relaxation.

My massage therapist has other appointments.  Besides, she is 20 minutes away.

I like to have a lot of options at my fingertips.

Relaxed woman

Relaxed woman

You should have these choices as well.

One caveat is important for all of these:  They must be practiced to be helpful.

If you ignore practice,  these calming techniques may be of some help when you are upset, but the help will be limited.

On the other hand if you have made a habit to select a few relaxation procedures and you have practiced them, they will be there for you when you need them.  If you wait until you are already upset, you will not even THINK about relaxing, you will be too {anxious, angry, worked up, agitated, take your pick}.


Simply taking time to breathe is one of the best and the fastest ways to relax.  Breathe and focus on your breath.  Notice how your body feels, especially in your midsection as your lungs fill and then empty.  For more on this, see Simple, Short Breathing Meditation.

A very relaxing type of breathing is Diaphragmatic Breathing.  In Diaphragmatic breathing the muscles of the diaphragm are used to pull the air into your lungs and then push it back out.  I often call this “tummy breathing” because when you do this your tummy moves out when you are breathing in, and in, when you are breathing out.  This is a good way to quickly calm down, and this is a way to learn it:

Muscle Tension and release.

This relaxation technique includes breathing but in this technique your breathing is paired with a series of tensed and then relaxed muscles.  This alone will slow your breathing.

This sequence is easy and fast.  It is an easy habit to adopt.   To hear this relaxation technique, press the start button blow:


Or, read the following and do it on your own:

  1. Start in a comfortable position, seated or lying down. Have your body straight and balanced.
  2. Take a breath in, hold it for a couple of seconds, and let it out slowly.
  3. With your next breath in pretend to pick up two lemons, one in each hand, and squeeze the juice out of the lemons.  As you breathe out shake the lemon juice off your fingers. Repeat the lemon squeeze and breathing.
  4. Pretend you are a turtle.  As you breathe in, go into your shell by pulling your shoulders up around your ears.  Hold it for a couple of seconds.  As you breathe out, come out of your shell by relaxing and lowering your shoulders.  Repeat the turtle breath.
  5. You are a turtle who has just come out of your shell.  Look around if you would like, stretch your neck and gently move your shoulders to increase their relaxation.
  6. You are at the circus and the elephant trainer has come over with the elephant who is going to stand on your stomach.  Breathe in, then pull your stomach muscles in so you can support the elephant’s foot.  Breathe out and let go of your stomach muscles as the elephant lifts its foot off your stomach.  Repeat the elephant breath.
  7. Your legs are the limbs of a tree in winter.  As you breathe in stiffen your legs and hold them tight.  Breathe out and let your legs “thaw out” and relax.  Repeat the tree in winter breath.
  8. You are a gymnast doing a backbend.  As you breathe in pull your head and shoulders back arching your back, and hold for a few seconds.  Breathe out, and stretch down toward your feet.  (If you are lying down, you can do this by pulling your knees up to your chest.)  Repeat the gymnast breath.
  9. Finish by taking a few relaxed breaths.

Final notes on this quick relaxation:

Flower on table

Flower on table

This is a good way to relax just before you go to sleep.  It is also helpful in getting you back to sleep if you wake up during the night.

This will break up any worry thoughts and/or racing thoughts that sometimes bother people, often when they are trying to relax and go to sleep.  If you are thinking about squeezing lemons or being a turtle, you are not thinking about the tasks that are facing you tomorrow, or any other problems in your life.

Practice every night will improve the effectiveness of these techniques.  You want these techniques to be available when you need them.

Don’t allow the perfect to overwhelm the good.  If you don’t like a piece of the procedure, eliminate it or change it.  I run through everything twice.  That works for me.  If you want to do it once, or three times, or whatever, go ahead.

With a few exceptions, these exercises can be done everywhere.  If people see you lifting your shoulders around your ears and ask what you are doing, simply explain that you are relaxing.  Believe me, they will understand.  If you want to stretch out after the modified back bend, then act like you are looking for the paper clip or the pen that you dropped.

Have fun with these.  Do them with your children.  They will benefit from learning how to relax too.