What I need to know about relaxation techniques

The practice of a relaxation technique can help us control our activation level and thus reduce levels of anxiety and stress.

When we start a relaxation procedure we have to take into account the following conditions:

  • That the person is motivated, accepts the technique, is receptive and let go.
  • Frequent and regular practice. Relaxation is learned progressively.
  • An atmosphere of calm, dim light and pleasant temperature.
  • Simple instructions.
  • Adequate posture; lying down or sitting in an enveloping armchair or in the coachman’s posture. It usually helps to keep the eyes closed.
  • Comfortable clothing; avoid tight clothing, belts that oppress us, glasses, etc..


  • Relaxation from Deep Breaths.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (Jacobson).
  • Autogenous training (Schultz).
  • Others: relaxation in imagination, meditation, yoga.


Breathing will be a fundamental element in any relaxation technique.

Breathing control is relatively easy to learn, has few instructions and can be applied in many contexts.

But like all techniques it needs practice. If we practice it twice a day, for 5 minutes, it can become a very effective deactivation technique.

To understand how the technique is performed, it can help to look at how we would fill a jerrycan with water: the water would enter through the top of the jerrycan and goes directly to the bottom, and as more water enters, its level rises until it reaches the top and finishes filling up. We have to try to imitate that, take air and take it to the lower part of our lung capacity, and fill it with air from the bottom to the top.

It can help to place one hand on the belly (below the navel) and another on the stomach (above the navel).

By practicing the following steps, we will gradually learn the technique;

  • Direct the air towards the lower part of the lungs, towards the belly (below the navel). Move the hand from the belly, but not from the stomach and chest.
  • Direct the air towards the lower and middle part of the lungs in two stages (first towards the belly, and in the same breath, but in a different time, towards the stomach (second hand).
  • Breathing complete; direct the air towards the belly, stomach and chest in the same breath and in three times. (with the practice it is done as a continuum).

Expiration should be long and slow, emptying the lungs completely. It may help to elevate the shoulders slightly at the end of the exhalation.


It consists of relaxing by means of exercises in which the person is tensing and relaxing in an alternative way their different muscle groups.

The objective is that the person learns to identify the proprioceptive signals of muscular tension, can relax them and thus modify the general tension.

Through instructions, a detailed route of all the muscular groups is made, with exercises of tension (approximately 10 sg.) and relaxation (30 sg.). It is important that the person focuses on the pleasant sensations of relaxation, and what it makes us feel.

This route usually goes through arms, face, neck, trunk and legs.

Once learned the technique, the person can make a mental journey through the different parts of his body, achieving a state of general relaxation. Subsequently, the relaxation exercise can be taken to normal situations of daily life.


The technique consists of inducing body sensations typical of relaxation such as heaviness in the limbs, and diffuse sensation of heat.

The person must repeat the phrase “I am totally calm” trying to experience the sensation of rest and to introduce and to alternate indications of the type “the arm weighs a lot”, “I feel heat in the arms”, and to be generalized by the different parts of the body.

There are many variations and types of techniques to reach a state of relaxation. Today we have many resources at our disposal to learn to control our activation level, such as psychotherapy, relaxation workshops, tutorials on the Internet, etc..

If you suffer from anxiety problems, depression, stress, …, these techniques can help you feel better, but alone may not be enough. Contact Decide Psicología if you need a complete and professional approach to deal with your problems.