1) Roll Breathing
This type of exercise aims to develop the full capacity of your lungs and to harmonize yourself with your breathing pace. This is best done while lying on your back, with knees bent.
1. Place left hand on your stomach, and place the right hand on your chest. Breathe in through the nose to the lower lungs (notice left hand rises while right hand does not move) for around 10 times.
2. After you feel at ease after 10 times of filling and emptying your lower lungs, repeat the same step. But this time, continue inhaling to the upper chest (notice right hand rises as left hand falls a little).
3. Exhale gradually through the mouth with a slight whooshing sound letting left hand fall first, then the right hand. Feel your worries and anxieties leave the body. Do this for around 5 minutes. Notice that the stomach and chest resembles rolling waves, rising and falling in a rhythmic motion.
Do this daily for several weeks or until you feel comfortable with this technique, so that it can be used whenever needed. If you get dizzy or light headed at first, you must breathe and move slowly, and then gradually increase the rate as you get more comfortable with the exercise.
2) Modified Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Deep muscle relaxation can diminish anxiety, stress, and tension. The objective of this method is to tense and relax every muscle part of your body.
Stretch out comfortably on the floor. Tense muscle groups for 5 to 10 seconds (strong but not to the point of discomfort), then let go and relax them for 10 to 15 seconds. At different points, check each muscle group and relax each one a bit more each time.
1. Point your toes towards your face.
2. Point and curl toes downward.
3. Clench your thighs hard.
4. Press hips and buttocks together.
5. Suck abdomen into a firm knot.
6. Breathe in deep through nose, hold it in your chest, and exhale through mouth.
7. Arch the back upward and away from any support.
8. Shrug your shoulders.
9. Clench your arms into fists, bend arms at elbows, and flex biceps.
10. Stretch out wrists and forearms, and bend them backward to the wrist.
11. Extend your chin to the chest, then tilt head backward (for the neck).
12. Press your lips tightly.
13. Smile from ear to ear (for the cheeks and jaws).
14. Close your eyes tightly (remove contact lenses if any).
15. Wrinkle your forehead into a frown.
16. When you’re done, count backwards from 10 to 1 for a more rejuvenating experience.
3) Relaxation Response
This technique slows heartbeat rate and breathing, lowers blood pressure, and relieves tensed muscles (as adopted from Herbert Benson, MD).
While in a sitting position, with eyes closed, perform the modified progressive muscle relaxation technique. Thereafter, be aware of your breathing from the abdomen and not from the chest. Every time you exhale, say a desirable word, phrase, or mantra like “freedom,” “power,” “one,” or “amen.”
Concentrate on any object in your mind as a stimulus and don’t be distracted by any other disturbing thoughts that enter your mind. Just let them drift away. Quietly relax for several minutes, then open your eyes. Notice any difference in breathing and pulse rate prior to the exercise. It may take more than one practice to attain deep relaxation. The purpose of this is to attain a passive mood, by letting distracting thoughts drift away like ocean waves. Practice this technique twice a day for 10 minutes.
1. Picture yourself on top of a high mountain. Imagine air circling around your feet, going up to your knees, to your thighs, to your tummy, to your chest, to your neck, and finally to your head. Each time the whirling wind comes up, visualize all your anxieties and worries being swept away. Feel the calming effect as the anxieties within you are now “gone with the wind.”
2. Picture yourself on the beach. As the waves splash your body, imagine all the anxieties being “cleansed and removed” out of your system.
3. Imagine a gigantic magnet absorbing all your anxieties. After pulling out all negativity out of your system, the magnet bursts like a bubble and all your fears, worries, and anxieties are vanished to oblivion.
4. Visualize yourself in a very relaxing setting. It may be a landscape where you can see the trees, smell the flowers, hear the gentle flow of water from the brook, and feel the refreshing breeze of fresh air. Now every time you feel anxious or tensed, go to this invigorating place in your mind and spend some time relaxing.