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When you find that you feel tense and worked up all the time, a physical relaxation exercise often works the fastest. It takes about 10 minutes and works by tensing all the major muscle groups in your body in turn for about five seconds and then relaxing each. Concentrate on how your muscles feel when they are tense and relaxed. Some areas will feel more tense than others. Try to find your most tense muscle groups.

By the end of the exercise, you should feel completely relaxed. Take a moment and enjoy this pleasant feeling. You can do this at any time when you feel stressed, even just before bedtime to help you get ready for a good sleep. Remember, the more you practice the better and faster you will be able to relax. You can also listen to relaxing music when you do this exercise. Here is what you do:

  • Choose somewhere comfortable and quiet that is not too hot or cold.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair or lie on your bed.
  • Choose a time when you will not be interrupted.
  • Tense your muscles just enough to notice what it feels like. Don’t overdo it.
  • Tense your muscles for about three to five seconds each.
  • Tense each muscle group twice.
  • After you have tensed a muscle, try not to move it again.
  • Start with the arms and hands by clenching your fists and pushing your arms straight out in front of you. Tense for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax. Repeat, tense for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax.
  • Move on to the legs and feet. Push your toes downward, gently raise your legs, and stretch them out in front of you. Tense for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax. Repeat, tense for 3 – 5 seconds…and re-lax.
  • Do the stomach by taking a breath and pushing out your tummy muscles. Hold it for 3 – 5 seconds…breathe out and relax. Repeat, breathe in, tense for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax.
  • Now, scrunch up your shoulders. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax. Repeat, hold for 3 – 5 seconds, and relax.
  • Move on to your neck muscles. Push you head back against the chair or bed. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax. Repeat, hold for 3 – 5 seconds, and relax.
  • Now, screw up your face, squeeze your eyes tight, and push your lips together. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds…and relax. Repeat, hold for 3 – 5 seconds, and relax.

Move on to see how physical exercise can also help you reduce tension.