Harness your breathing
Calm, full breathing is key to relaxation. Sit or lie with your eyes closed and breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four, feeling the chest and tummy expand. Hold the breath for four, then slowly release it like a sigh through your mouth, for a count of four. Repeat five times.
Over time, as you get used to breathing deeply, increase the count to eight.
Imagine a beautiful place
When troubled thoughts are jangling around your head, imagine you’re somewhere in nature, like a golden beach, and that you can feel sand trickling through your toes, hear the soft lapping of waves, and feel the warm sun making you sleepy and relaxed.
Squeeze and release stiff muscles
Tension often results in stiff, unyielding muscles. Do this simple exercise lying on a rug or yoga mat, or in bed if worry is stopping you from sleeping.
- Make your feet as tense as possible, hold for a moment, then release and relax.
- Next squeeze the muscles in your knees, hold, then release. Your thighs are next, followed by the buttocks.
- Slowly do the same around the rest of the body: tummy, hands, arms. Lift your shoulders up to your neck and release.
- Tense your jaw and release, squeeze your facial muscles and release, then lift your head off the pillow and let it fall back gently.
- Finally, squeeze every muscle group at once, then let it all go, and enjoy how relaxed you now feel.