Relaxing your body and mind can help you manage stress and improve your concentration, productivity, and overall well-being. Read on for some helpful techniques!

Getting Started

If you need help, be sure to ask a therapist or counselor–they can offer more detailed instructions and coaching to help you perfect these techniques.

  • Find a quiet, relaxing place where you will be alone for 10-20 minutes to do these exercises. No distractions = best results.
  • Practice once or twice a day.
  • Stick with the technique that works best for you. Not every technique works for every person.
  • Keep trying! Don’t worry if you don’t notice a major change immediately. Feeling the full benefits may take time.
  • Try one or more of the techniques described below.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique can help you relax the major muscle groups in your body. And it’s easy to do!

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sit in a favorite chair or lie down.
  2. Begin with your facial muscles. Frown hard for 5-10 seconds and then relax all your muscles.
  3. Work other facial muscles by scrunching up your face or knitting your eyebrows for 5-10 seconds. Release. You should feel a noticeable difference between the tense and relaxed muscles.
  4. Move on to your jaw. Then, move on to other muscle groups — shoulders, arms, chest, legs, etc. — until you’ve tensed and relaxed individual muscle groups throughout your whole body.

Meditation

This is the process of focusing on a single word or object to clear your mind. As a result, you feel calm and refreshed!

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sit or lie in a relaxing position.
  2. Close your eyes and concentrate on a calming thought, word, or object.
  3. Don’t worry if other thoughts pop into your mind — it’s normal! Try not to dwell on them. Just keep focusing on your image or sound.
  4. If you’re having trouble, try repeating a word or sound over and over or playing soothing music.
  5. Gradually, you’ll begin to feel more and more relaxed.

Visualization

This technique uses your imagination–a great resource when it comes to reducing stress!

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Imagine a pleasant, peaceful scene, such as a lush forest or a sandy beach. Picture yourself in this setting.
  3. Focus on the scene for a set amount of time (any amount of time you’re comfortable with), then gradually return to the present.

Deep Breathing

This is one of the easiest ways to relieve tension. Once you are able to do this technique easily, you can practice it almost anywhere, at any time!

  1. Lie on your back with a pillow under your head. Bend your knees (or put a pillow under them) to relax your stomach.
  2. Put one hand on your stomach, just below your rib cage.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose. Your stomach should feel like it’s rising.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely and letting your stomach fall.
  5. Repeat several times until you feel calm and relaxed. Practice daily.

Drawing and Coloring

Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community, and connection. The circle concept exists in nature, is found in many religious symbols and represents wholeness. Mandalas are intricate designs that can be a part of the meditating experience.

When you color a mandala, your goal is to focus on the process of coloring, and be mindful of how it feels to color. It can be very relaxing and calming. Bonus: when you have finished, you’ve created a lovely picture.

Download a mandala to print and color! (pdf)

The UGA Health Center (UHC) wants to support you in succeeding and enjoying your experience at UGA. Experts at UHC offer knowledge and programs concerning stress management and college life.

Written by: UHC CAPS and Communications