University of Illinois Extension

Controlling Stress

Easy Relaxation Techniques

Belly Breathing

Sit or lie comfortably in a relaxed position. As you slowly breathe in, let your belly expand. Think of it as a balloon filling with air. As you exhale, let the air out of your “balloon” slowly. Place your hands on your stomach. You should feel it rise and fall as you breathe.

Slower Respiration Rate

Slow down your breathing rate by seeing how few times you can breathe each 60 seconds. When you begin to get tense, take a few minutes and simply slow your breathing down to about three to six breaths per minute.

Shoulder Exercise

Try to touch your ears with your shoulders. Hold it for a count of four. Then let your shoulders drop. Now rotate each shoulder separately toward the rear. Do each shoulder five to ten times. Then do both shoulders together.


Massage the back of your neck, concentrating on the part that feels tense. Cup your thumbs at the front of your neck and massage on both sides of your spinal column, letting your head fall limply back against your rotating fingers. Use your fingers to massage around your hairline and under your jaw and your cheekbones.

Mental Vacation

Enjoy the pleasures of a vacation through your imagination. First, close your eyes and think of some place where you would like to be. Then go there in your mind. Perhaps you will go alone. Or you might imagine being with someone. You may be quietly watching the sunset, a mountain, the woods or an ocean. Or you may be active in hunting shells or rocks, hiking, playing some sport or game, climbing a mountain or cycling. Enjoy the experience.

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