How to Quickly Relax Your Body and Mind

How to Quickly Relax Your Body

Learn how to quickly relax your whole body with this simple exercise. The exercise is called Contract and Relax, and is especially helpful to quickly relax your body if you have difficulties falling asleep, or when lying wide awake at night.

The First Relaxation Exercise I ever learned

This is the very first relaxation exercise I ever learned, long before I even started practicing yoga. It was a primary school teacher who introduced it to me during gymnastics class, and I am still grateful for it!

Every time I practice this exercise, I am amazed by its effectiveness. One moment I am unable to sleep with a wide range of worries and thoughts in my mind. Only a few minutes later and after performing this exercise, I am sound asleep!

Tension in the Body

Axiety, panic attacks and stress create a lot of tension in our body. We can become so used to this tension, that we do not notice it anymore. We can even forget what it feels like to be completely relaxed.

The Contract and Relax Exercise helps to become aware again of the difference between tension and relaxation.

Relaxing the Body is Relaxing the Mind

When our body is tense, we are more easily drawn towards worrying, anxiety or other negative thoughts. 

When we relax our body, this also helps to relax our mind. Thoughts can calm down, or move on to more peaceful subjects.

Contract and Relax Step-by-Step

Step 1 – Lie down

Lie down in a comfortable position. 

Make sure that your body stays warm throughout the exercise. When your body is cold, it is very difficult to relax! Use a blanket, warm socks or a hot water bottle.

Step 2 – Inhale, Contract Your Muscles

On an inhalation, activate every single muscle in your body. Make fists, lift up your arms and legs, make funny faces, stick out your tongue. Activate every muscle you can find.

Hold the activation of your muscles for a couple of seconds…

Step 3 – Exhale, Relax Your Muscles

On an exhalation, relax every single muscle in your body at once. Allow your arms and legs to drop down, soften the facial muscles, relax your hands. Let gravity pull you down to the surface you are lying on.

Step 4 – Take a Couple of Deep, Slow Abdominal Breaths

Slowly breathe into your lower belly. With each inhalation, let your belly expand like a balloon. With each exhalation, allow your belly to sink back to the center of your body.

Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Relax your jaw with each exhalation. (Learn more about abdominal breathing in this post)

Step 5 – Repeat Two More Times

After doing the exercise for a total of three times, allow your body to be completely relaxed for a couple of breaths. Observe whether your body feels different from before the exercise.



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