Tense and Release
If you've never tried a relaxation exercise before, you may not know what relaxation truly feels like. That's the point of this exercise - to show you in no uncertain terms the difference between 'tense' and 'relaxed'. It's also fun to do, in my opinion.
You can try this sitting if you wish but it will be much easier if you find a comfortable spot where you can lie down and completely stretch out. Take a few moments to simply 'be' and take several deep breaths. When you're ready, turn your attention to your feet.
Completely contract the muscles in your feet. I mean, just turn those toes under and squeeze! Do it until you can't squeeze any more...and hold it. Yes, hold it. (you can do it!) Don't worry about it if you start to shake - it's normal. Hold the tension for about 10 seconds and then just let go. Notice how you feet feel now - that is what relaxation feels like!
Do this for each part of your body. Work your way up - contract, hold and release the muscles in your calves; thighs, buttocks, belly...
When you get to your arms, you'll be doing the entire arm at once. Make a fist before you contract your muscles and then proceed as before. Continue to work your way up, tensing your neck and releasing.
Here's what you do to relax your head: Do a 'closed mouth' grin and turn the corners of your mouth up as far as you can. At the same time, pull your eyebrows down as far as they will go. Hold this for 10 seconds and release.
Now all there is left to do is lie still and bask in the sensation of being relaxed. Enjoy!
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