Please feel free to adapt the following exercise in any way that feels comfortable for you.
Find a quiet place where you wont be disturbed and make yourself comfortable. Sitting is better than lying down so you dont get too comfortable and fall asleep. Place your hands gently on your lap, uncross your legs.
Starting at the top of your head and proceeding down to your toes,notice how each part of your body is feeling..noticing if there is any stress or tension or physical discomfort. Do this slowly as you are increasing your attention and awareness through this process. If you notice a part of your body that is experiencing tension, gently say to that part of your body the word “relax” or “”release” or a similar word that works for you. In addition to using the word, you can also take a deep breath and breathe into the tension you experience. Again, do this slowly so that you can really experience the release. As you do this exercise, it’s important to notice how you are breathing. Consciously breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest area will deepen the experience of relaxation.
Another variation of this exercise is to go through a process that involves purposely tensing and relaxing each muscle group from your head to your feet. So starting with your facial muscles for example…gently squeeze your eye and mouth like you’re making an ugly face..and then relax . Do it 3 times and move on to your shoulders..lift your shoulders to your ears and then drop…3 times (PLEASE DON’T DO THIS IF YOU HAVE PAIN ANYWHERE..you don’t want to make anything worse.)
And as you move down your body, tense and release each muscle group..go slowly and dont forget to breathe.
-Scott Christnelly, LCSW-R