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There are many ways you can do relaxation, including:

  • relaxation with tension
  • relaxation without tension
  • mini-relaxation.

Relaxation with tension

Relaxation with tension is a way to relieve muscle tension and pain. You do it by tensing and then, after a few seconds, relaxing different groups of muscles in your body. Relaxation with tension is a good exercise to help you notice the difference between feeling tense and relaxed.

How to do relaxation with tension

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit.
  2. Think about all the muscles in your body that you can tense and relax such as your forehead, jaw, neck, upper back and shoulders, upper and lower arms, stomach, upper and lower legs and feet.
  3. When you hit play, an audio recording will start and lead you through the muscle relaxation exercise.
  4. Begin when you are ready.


  • The goal is to learn how your muscles feel when they are tense and the contrast in feelings when they relax. There is no need to twist or turn your neck, head or feet so much that you become uncomfortable.
  • Some muscles may be harder to relax than others because the tension may be worse there. Spend extra time on these muscles.

Relaxation without tension

  1. As you did with the relaxation with tension exercise, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit.
  2. When you hit play, an audio recording will start and lead you through the muscle relaxation without tension exercise.
  3. Begin when you are ready.


  • Put all your focus and thought into this exercise.
  • As you think about each muscle, you can let it get warm, heavy and relaxed.


When stress, anxiety or other feelings are building up, you might not be able to take 20 minutes to relax using the other techniques. Mini-relaxation combines belly breathing and muscle relaxation to help you relax quickly. You can also include mental imagery here (see below). Together, these techniques can help you reduce these feelings and tension during stressful situations.

  1. Find a cozy chair or a space to lie down.
  2. Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your stomach rise.
  3. Hold your breath while you count to five in your head. At the same time, roll your shoulders in a big circle and then let them drop loose. Think “r-e-l-a-x”.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth, slow and relaxed, as if you’re softly whistling.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 and feel more relaxed each time.


  • Like the other relaxation skills, practice is very helpful.
  • Set reminders, such as an alarm on your cell phone, to help you remember to practise.
Last updated: November 30th 2017