Guidelines to master the techniques:
- Find somewhere quiet, where you will not be disturbed
- Make yourself comfortable, sitting or lying down
- Loosen tight clothing and uncross your arms and legs
- Dim the lights
- Follow the same routine when you prepare for each relaxation session
- Don’t worry, be happy
- Have achievable and realistic expectations of yourself
- Don’t live in the past
- Learn to say ‘no’
- Exercise your mind (do something that stimulates the mind)
- If possible, schedule a set time to practice each day. Set aside one or two periods each day. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way.
- Avoid practicing when you’re sleepy. These techniques can relax you so much that they can make you very sleepy, especially if it’s close to bedtime. You will get the most benefit if you practice when you’re fully awake and alert. Do not practice after eating a heavy meal or while using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.
- Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.
If one relaxation technique doesn’t work for you, try another. If none of your efforts at stress reduction seems to work, talk to your doctor about other options.
Give it time. Like any skill, relaxation takes time. With practice, your body learns to associate key actions, such as taking a deep breath or clenching your fist, with a deep relaxation response. This learned response allows you to relax more deeply and more easily, in a variety of situations, as you use the technique day-by-day. As your skills develop, you will be able to relax anywhere – in the car, in the shopping centre, or while waiting in a queue.
Also, bear in mind that some people, especially those with serious psychological issues and a history of abuse, may experience feelings of emotional discomfort during some relaxation techniques. Although this is rare, if you experience emotional discomfort during relaxation techniques, stop what you’re doing and consider talking to your doctor or mental health provider.