Here is an example relaxation exercise that focuses on physical relaxation, incorporating a basic version of PMR (progressive muscle relaxation) and Deep Breathing. Both of these techniques are well known to improve concentration and reduce stress during the study or before a test.
- Close your eyes. If you can, lie down unless you are tired -you may fall asleep. Sit up in a chair if you are tired.
- Clench your whole body. Pull taught every muscle you can feel tightly! Make a face. Strain those arms, legs, shoulders, everywhere. Hold for about ten seconds. Then let go.
- Do this again but focus on individual muscle groups one at a time. Start at your toes, then your calves, quads, all the way up to the muscles around your face. Strain and relax each group for around five seconds.
- Breathe in for a beat of 1, 2, 3. Then out on a beat of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Fill your lungs to capacity. Visualize relaxation flowing into your body through your lungs as you breathe in, and feel tension and stress flow out of your body as you breathe out.
- Repeat the above with beats of 1, 2, 3, 4. Then out on a beat of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Your breath out is twice as long breathing out as you do in.
- Repeat step 5, breathing in for five, then six beats (i.e. out on ten, then twelve beats). If you can comfortably go higher, then do so. Don’t overdo it. If you get light-headed, you are probably going too far!
- Then go backwards, starting at six beats in (twelve out), then five in (ten out), down to three in (six out).
That’s it. This exercise is an excellent way to relax before starting any study or work requiring concentration. It’s also an excellent exercise to do when you are feeling stressed, pressured, angry, or upset. It helps you wind down and puts you in a better peace of mind.