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Planning Retirement Online

Relaxation - how to go about it

                         November 2006



Relaxation - how to go about it

Helen Franks explains






Breathing techniques 

Chest and abdominal breathing

1. Ideally, lie down on your back on the floor, with a small pillow or folded towel under your head, and another under your knees. Or you can sit in a comfortable position. Make sure that you are warm enough (this is important if you are on the floor).

2. Take slow, deep, rhythmic breaths through the nose. You will feel your diaphragm and abdomen expand as you breathe in very deeply. Allow the lungs to fill completely.

3. Then give a slow, even exhalation which empties the lungs completely.

4. Repeat this slow breathing for 5 repetitions whenever you feel tense, building up to 10 repetitions.

5. As you get more expert at this, you can hold the in-breathe to a count of 3, and then hold the out-breathe similarly. If you are prone to panic attacks or hyperventilating, this is a useful technique.

Alternate nostril breathing

1. Use your thumb to cover your right nostril.
2. Then your little finger and third (ring) finger to cover your left nostril.
3. Lightly close your right nostril and inhale up your left nostril.
4. Pause, and while your lungs are full of air, switch your hands so that your left nostril is closed.
5. Then exhale. Repeat this process about 12 times. This breath is often done in preparation for deep relaxation or meditation.

Deep relaxation

Repeat the following 6 times each:

1. My hands and arms are heavy and warm.
2. My feet and legs are heavy and warm.
3. My abdomen is warm.
4. My breathing is deep and even.
5. My heartbeat is calm and regular.


Other aids to relaxation



This involves hypnosis, which is a form of deep relaxation, the theory being that your mind is open to suggestion when under hypnosis. If you don’t think you can succumb, then it’s not for you. Make sure you use one of the following contacts: National Council for Hypnotherapy,  or the General Hypnotherapy Register,


When an expert performs a massage, you can feel it relieving tension and helping you to relax. Massage is thought to stimulate blood flow and lower blood pressure. Find a massage expert through The General Council for Massage .
Music Listening to classical music can lower blood pressure and is an aid to relaxation. It has to be slow and quiet, not loud or with a strong beat.


This involves practice. You can do it in a group or on your own, sitting or lying down quietly. Meditation can lower stress levels and blood pressure. You need to make time every day to practice: at least 10 minutes, better still 20 minutes. The technique involves breathing slowly and concentrating on something to the exclusion of all other thoughts. Repeating a mantra, like the word ‘one’ is an example. Or you can make up your own mantra. Another method is to count on the in-breath ‘one’, then ‘two, three, four, etc…’ until, hopefully, you get into a trance. Meditation if not for everyone, but if you want to try a group, there is the Acem International School of Meditation

For the full works, you could get a CD or tape on ‘Mindful Meditation’ from the North Wales Centre for Mindfulness, but you will need to find at least ? quarters of an hour to practice:

Self Help for Your Nerves: Learn to Relax and Enjoy Life Again by Overcoming Stress and Fear



Read ‘Self Help For Your Nerves’ (Harper Collins, 2000) by Dr Claire Weekes.




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