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Man Relaxing in a Yoga class
Illustration of content man reading in bed

Whether it’s coping with stress or just wanting to take a break in your day, relaxation is an important part of self-care. Everyone has different methods to relax ranging from listening to music, walking on the beach, reading a book or meditation. Learning the best method for relaxation for you can help balance out your stress levels and reduce the risk of more serious health conditions.


Deep Breathing is one of the easiest ways to relax in the moment. Typically, adults tend to take more shallow breaths and breathe through their chest.

Taking a few minutes each day to take deep breaths, feeling it in your belly, allows you to take in more oxygen. The release of the carbon dioxide brings the body to a more calm state. This type of breathing is known as deep breathing.

Young woman with a hand on her chest and a hand on her abdomen doing breathing exercises
  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet pressed flat, firmly on the ground.
  2. Place one hand on your belly button or just above and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose and feel your hand on your stomach rise. The hand on your chest should not move. Count to 4.
  4. Slowly exhale through your mouth and the hand on your stomach should begin to fall. Count to 4.
  5. Repeat this for up to 5 minutes.
Breathing For Stress Relief

Mindful meditation aims to calm not only the body, but also the mind. Focusing only on your present thoughts and emotions allows you to clear your mind from past or future stressors. Practicing this method as soon as you wake or right before bed on a consistent basis can lead to long term effects to your day-to-day. An easy method to get started can be found on the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP website here.

Woman sitting in a relaxing Yoga position

Guided imagery uses the power of visualization to relax your mind to a calm state. By creating this relaxing experience in your mind, your body may react as if it is actually happening. When practicing guided imagery, you want to create an image that is relaxing to you. For instance, if you enjoy the going to the beach to relax. The image you create in your mind could include the sounds of the waves as they hit the shore, the seagulls flying just above the surface of the ocean or the way the sand feels between your toes as you walk towards the shoreline. Some other examples may be a starry night under the moon, sitting by warm fire or watching the sunrise in your favorite location. The objective is to be as detailed as possible to create the impression that you are there.

Man staring out at sunset after hike. Sky is yellow orange.

During stressful situations, we unknowingly tend to tense our muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation is a common method used to relieve this associated tension due to stress. This method has also been shown to reduce other body reactions from stress such has rapid heartbeat. The process of progressive muscle relaxation requires tensing parts of your body and then slowly releasing starting from your toes all the way up to your face. Depending on the level of tension, this method may take up 10 minutes to complete, so allow yourself plenty of time. For a more detailed step-by-step of this exercise please visit here.

Woman lying on a Yoga mat in corpse pose
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Mobile phone with the Mindfulness Coach App on the screen
Mindfulness Coach

Mindfulness means noticing and paying attention to what is going on in the present moment, without passing judgment on it. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for reducing stress, improving emotional balance, increasing self-awareness, helping with anxiety and depression, and coping more effectively with chronic pain.

Mobile phone with the UCLA Mindful Coach App on the screen
UCLA Mindful Coach

With this easy-to-use app, you can practice mindfulness meditation anywhere, anytime with the guidance of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Scientific research shows mindfulness can help manage stress-related physical conditions, reduce anxiety and depression, cultivate positive emotions, and help improve overall physical health and well-being.

Mobile phone with the Breathe2Relax App on the screen

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management.

Mobile phone with the Tactical Breather App on the screen
Tactical Breather

The award-winning Tactical Breather app can be used to gain control over physiological and psychological responses to stress. Although the techniques were developed for soldiers in intense combat situations, any person can benefit from the techniques taught in the app.

Mobile phone with the Chill Drills App on the screen
Chill Drills

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to pause for a moment to refresh and recharge. Chill Drills by Military OneSource allows you to do that by lowering your stress level wherever you are, whenever you need. Download this free app and get started — no need for internet access.

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