Self help exercises

The following exercises teach deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Many people find it very helpful in reducing overall levels of tension and anxiety.

These simple exercises are designed to help you to calm your stress responses and can be used when you are feeling overwhelmed by thoughts about what has happened.

You might want to find a quiet, comfortable space in which to practise these, where you won’t be distubed.

Square Breathing is a slow and focused breathing technique which encourages using the abdomen to breathe deeply. This helps our heart rate to slow down and helps us to feel more relaxed and focused.

If possible, sit in a chair with your back supported and both of your feet on the floor. Notice the support of the chair and floor under you.

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The Star Hand Breathing Exercise can help to switch off the stress response. It brings the body back into balance, slowing and deepening the breath and slowing down the heart rate, while harnessing the need to move with an action that requires focus.

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Deep muscle relaxation

Find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed. Lie down and close your eyes. This exercise takes you through the different muscle groups, first tensing, then relaxing.

Breathe in while tensing, out while relaxing.

Start with your hands, clench one hand tightly. Think about the tension this produces in your hand and your forearm. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Notice the difference between the tension and the relaxation. Do the same with the other hand.

Move to your arms next, repeating the same tensing and relaxing.

Repeat with other muscle groups in this order – neck, face, chest, stomach, buttocks, legs.