Ten Quick and Easy Relaxation Exercises - Feel Better Fast!

When you are feeling stressed wouldn't it be great to be able to use relaxation exercises to reduce your stressful feelings quickly? Think how much better you would be able to deal with those stressful situations if you could react calmly.

These ten quick and easy relaxation exercises can be used at any time. Some of them can be used wherever you are because they can be done without anyone noticing you are doing them. You are sure to find at least one that will be effective. Give all these relaxation exercises a try and see which ones work best for you.

1. Take three deep breaths

This is one of those relaxation exercises that is so simple and easy to do in any situation you find yourself in.

Rest your hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath and let the air push your hand out. Keep on taking in air until your chest rises. When it feels like you can't take in any more air, pause for a moment before you breathe out.

Breathe out slowly letting the air out of your chest first. Then keep breathing all the way out pulling your stomach muscles in to expel the last bit of air. Pause for a second or two before repeating two more times.

2. Focus on the positive

This one of the best relaxation exercises when someone is stressing you out - your child is having a tantrum, your teenager is shouting at you, your parents are nagging, your partner is ignoring you, etc. You probably react the same way each time a situation like this happens and I'm guessing it's not a very positive way. This exercise will help you to change your usual reaction.

Just for a moment interrupt the way you usually react and really see the person. Look at their face and think of something positive about them. Think of what makes you love them. Remember a good time you had together, the last time they helped you or made you laugh.

To begin with this may seem a bit hard to do. And the more you do it the easier it will become. I think you will be amazed how doing this changes the way you feel about the person who is stressing you. And, of course, when you make your feelings more positive you feel better.

3. Come into the present

Often when you feel stressed or anxious you will find that you are thinking about the past or imagining the future. If you are doing this you are not present to what is happening around you now. If you focus on what is actually happening you will find that a lot of your stressful feelings will lessen and disappear.

An easy way to come into the present is to focus on what you are experiencing through your senses. Try one, or all, of the following:

Hear - For one minute listen to the sounds around you. Wherever you are try to hear every separate sound. If you are at home, listen to the TV playing in the next room, the sound of your neighbour's lawnmower, a dog barking down the street. Wherever you are, see how many individual sounds you can pick out.

See - Look around you and pick out the most beautiful object or person you can see. Now look for the smallest thing you can see. Then, look for the most unusual thing. Tune into your sense of sight and take in your surroundings. You'll be surprised how fascinating the world becomes when you get out of your head for five minutes.

Feel - Use your sense of touch and feel whatever is touching your body. If you are sitting, feel the seat against your back, supporting you. If you are standing, feel the ground under you. Feel the energy of the earth coming up through your feet. Try becoming aware of your clothes against your skin.

Using any, or all, of your senses will help to bring you into the present. Being present makes it much more difficult to worry and stress over things.

4. Relax your hands and feet

This relaxation exercise is a good one to use when you are in the middle of a stressful situation. Sometimes you need to be able to relieve some of your stress and still stay as focused as possible on what's going on.

Imagine that all of your stress is focused in your feet. Clench your feet hard inside your shoes. Hold for a few seconds. Then let your feet go and let your tension drain away as your feet relax.

Now do the same with your hands. Alternate between your feet and hands until you feel more relaxed and at peace.

5. Letting go

This is another one of the relaxation exercises that can be used while still keeping some of your attention on what is going on around you. Of course, it works best if you can give it your full attention. And it will help you even if you only partly focus on it.

Become aware of where you feel the most stress and tension in your body. Breathe into that area, as you breathe out, let the tension flow out with your breath.

With each breath, breathe more deeply and let go of more and more of the tension. Keep going until you feel more relaxed. Be careful not to over breathe or you'll end up feeling dizzy!

6. Light through your chakras

This is one of those relaxation exercises that takes some concentration. So do not try it when you have to concentrate on something else.

Your chakras are energy centres. You have seven main chakras:

Crown chakra - on the top of your headBrow chakra - on the middle of your forehead just above your eyebrowsThroat chakra - on the front of your throatHeart chakra - on the middle of your chest at the level of your heartSolar plexus chakra - in the centre of your abdomen about six inches above your navelNavel chakra - in between your navel and public boneRoot chakra - in between your legs

These energy centres are very powerful. Imagine there is a waterfall of light falling from the sky into the top of your head, through your crown chakra. Let the light pour down through you. See it lighting up each of your chakras in turn until it reaches your root chakra. Then let the light run out of your root chakra a and surround your whole body with light. Feel yourself becoming energised and relaxed as you bathe in light.

Once you feel relaxed, allow the light to flow from you into the heart chakras of anyone who is near you. When I do this exercise, I can often feel a big change in the atmosphere afterwards. People often stop arguing and discuss things more calmly.

7. The gratitude exercise

When you are feeling grumpy, miserable and hard done by, it can be hard to feel that life has anything good to offer. Feeling grateful has the power to lift our mood and completely change the way you feel.

Close your eyes and think of something, however small, that you are grateful for. It might be something as simple as having water flow out of your tap. Or being able to see. Or a plant growing between the cracks in the pavement.

To begin with you may not be able to think of very many things or you might be able to think of lots. The number does not matter. What matters is getting in touch with a feeling of appreciation. The feeling may not be very strong to start with. However, if you keep doing this exercise regularly you will find that it becomes stronger.

Try either starting or finishing your day by noticing and writing down five or more things that you are grateful for. You may find that doing this will attract a lot more good things into your life.

8. Shake it out

This is one of the best relaxation exercises for when you are feeling a lot of physical tension. It's also great fun to do with children.

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Start by shaking your hands and arms vigorously. Then shake your head and shoulders as well. Add in your torso, legs and feet, so that you are literally dancing and shaking all over the place.

Stop suddenly and let the upper half of your body drop so that your hands are touching the floor. Let everything be heavy, floppy and relaxed. Then from that position start shaking again, beginning with your head and working down your whole body. It is much harder to do when you are bent double! You'll probably end up laughing a lot and feeling much better.

9. Stretch it out

This is another relaxation exercises for releasing physical stress. You can do it standing up or lying down.

1. Stretch your arms above your head. If you are standing reach up so that you're standing on your toes. If you are lying down push your heels away from your body. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times

2. Make your legs as wide as you can without falling over. Stretch your arms out sideways. Really push your hands away from your body. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times.

3. Stand with your feet together. Stretch your arms down towards your feet. See how long you can make them. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times.

10. Just laugh

Laughter has a very powerful effect on the body. It encourages the release of chemicals that relax us and make us feel happier.

Although it might seem strange, you can laugh to order even if nothing funny has happened.

If you think you might be embarrassed find a private place to do this relaxation exercise. Just start laughing. This is a real case of "fake it till you make it"! All you have to do is laugh and the more you laugh the better you will feel. So keep on laughing until you feel great!

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