Discover What Really Works For Anxiety

Discover What Really Works For Anxiety

Sign Up For Our FREE Overcoming Anxiety Newsletter & Instantly Download Our New Book "Overcoming Anxiety: A Guide to 42 Proven Strategies"

(Plus+ Exclusive Content, Bonuses, Discounts and More!)

Relax the Mind & Body: Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety & Stress

Article Summary:

Discover how to relax your mind and body with proven relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress. Quickly enter into a relaxed state with these simple practices.

This article will allow you to take a much-needed breather from the often hectic experience of modern life.

You will be slowing things down and purposefully taking time to relax the mind and body.

Consider this page an oasis – a break from the struggle and striving in life.

Here you will be learning HOW to relax – using highly effective relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress.

You can use these techniques and practices to regain control of your innate ability to relax and let go.

As difficult as it may seem – especially if you have deep-seated anxiety and trauma – being able to relax can be practiced and learned.

Learning how to relax can be similar to practicing self-control or learning a new language.

You have control over your ability to relax and let go – ongoing stress and anxiety can lead you to forget that it is possible.

Learning to let go and relax can profoundly benefit your body and mind if you struggle with anxiety, stress, fear, or trauma.

These benefits can become more significant as you use these techniques daily.

This article will discuss the importance of daily relaxation, how to incorporate it into your everyday life, and easy and effective relaxation techniques for stress and anxiety you can practice RIGHT NOW.

So let's get started!

Recommended Offers From Our Partner Sounds True:

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

A Scientifically Studied, Tested and Proven, 8 Week Online Training Course

The Key to Health, Happiness and Vibrant Energy

A Free Video Teaching With Renowned Qi Gong Master Lee Holden

40 Days to Positive Change w/ Kelly McGonigal, PhD

A Free 60-Minute Video on Establishing New Habits for Positive Change

The Importance of Relaxation for Managing Anxiety

Most of us were never taught how to relax.

For many of us, "relaxation" really means distraction or avoidance.

Staring at the television after a stressful day at work or having a few drinks to relax the inner tension we feel.

Few of us take the time to step back and take a break from our thoughts.

Few of us take the time to actively relax our minds and bodies through breathing or physical relaxation.

Even fewer of us know how to release the thoughts or feelings we've been carrying.

This inability to release thoughts and feelings and just let go can be a major reason you are stressed out and anxious in the first place.

Unfortunately, these life skills are rarely taught when growing up.

Today, even in the "self-help" space, there tends to be a strong focus on achievement, reaching goals, improving oneself, and staying motivated – with much less emphasis on learning to relax and taking time to unwind, reset, and let go.

While trying to improve yourself or reach your goals is a good and honorable way to live, if you are unrelenting in your striving to "improve" (whether it is your physical appearance, career, or even your "anxiety"), you will create an imbalance in your life.

As you push yourself more and more to achieve and become "better," you put more pressure on yourself, which can often worsen your stress and anxiety.

This pressure you put on yourself, combined with an already fast-paced lifestyle and the stresses of modern life, could be an underlying cause for feeling overly stressed and anxious.

Developing the ability to relax is essential for reducing anxiety and creating balance in life.

When you are constantly stressed or anxious, you tend to live in a state of "fight or flight."

When you live in a place of fight or flight, your breathing becomes more tense and shallow, your heart rate increases, and your body releases more stress hormones.

You will begin to feel "stressed out, " leading to physical and psychological symptoms.

These symptoms include headaches, bodily pains, anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive issues, and more.

Learning to relax and taking the time daily to relax and reset is essential to balancing this mounting stress.

The keyword here is BALANCE

Balancing your daily stress, anxiety, and motivation with relaxation is essential.

Just as it is necessary to balance your waking state with sleep or your diet with proper amounts of proteins, carbs, and fats - balancing your daily stress, anxiety, and motivation with relaxation is essential to positive mental health.

You don't need to eliminate stress entirely; some stress is good and can even be a motivator – but we need balance.

Taking time each day to relax and let go of what you are compulsively holding onto can help immensely to reach this balance in life.

Making Relaxation a New Habit

To truly balance your life, you need to be able to induce relaxation in your mind and body.

We recommend setting aside at least 10 mins – preferably more – each day to sit and relax.

Make this an essential part of your nightly routine.

If you're already doing meditation or breathing exercises, you can continue doing those while adding relaxation techniques that you find helpful.

If you plan on doing meditation or other exercises in the future, learning how to relax first can significantly improve your ability to quiet the mind and meditate when the time comes.

Regardless of where you are currently, make time to relax daily.

The ability to induce relaxation in the mind and body can be a profound life skill.

Benefits of Daily Relaxation:

  • Helps manage/reduce stress and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves immune system health
  • Helps balance lifestyle
  • Lowers stress-related hormones
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Reduces tension
  • Lowers risk for heart-related issues
  • Allows physical and emotional healing to take place

How to Relax the Mind...and the Body Will Follow

One of the most critical skills for reducing anxiety is learning how to relax the mind.

Anxiety is the opposite of a relaxed mind.

Your anxious mind can become overwhelmed with worry, mental tension, and chronic obsessive thoughts.

By learning to calm the mind and promote mental and physical relaxation, you can reduce the constant influx of stress chemicals and create space in your mind so you are not so entangled in your worrisome thoughts (also known as cognitive fusion).

When you relax, you become more aware and in touch with your current state – pausing from your normal habituated thoughts and responses.

You can reset your mental and emotional state by relaxing into the present moment.

There are four key components to fostering relaxation, calming the mind, and reducing anxiety:

1. Awareness: increasing present-moment awareness allows for a subtle shift from being immersed in your thoughts and worries to noticing how they play out – meditation and mindfulness practices are powerful ways to help improve your ability to bring awareness into your present experience

2. Acceptance: acceptance removes the need to change, control or fight your already overactive mind – it gives you space to breathe and allows you to surrender to life as it unfolds – trying to fight your anxiety or change your thoughts in the heat of anxiety or panic, rarely works

3. Breathing: taking slow deep breaths activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the brain and body, slowing the heart rate and reducing an overactive nervous system or stress response; your breath is your direct path to mental and physical relaxation (and it is one aspect in life you can directly control)

4. Physical Relaxation: when your body is relaxed, the mind typically follows (and vice versa) – this is why massage or focused muscle relaxation can be so helpful in relaxing the mind – even having a more relaxed posture or softening the belly can promote a more relaxed state of mind

All the relaxation techniques below provide these four key components.

They can profoundly influence learning how to relax the mind and promote calm.

These techniques can be valuable for reducing anxiety and stress and promoting greater balance and ease in our lives.

Relaxation Techniques

In our view, "relaxation" is NOT staring at the TV, mindlessly clicking through your phone, or reading a book.

Although many of us do these things to unwind at the end of the day, we are discussing a different type of relaxation.

To relax effectively, you will need to set aside distractions. Go somewhere quiet where you won't be disturbed, and set aside at least 10 to 20 mins.

Doing this at or near the end of the day is the best time.

You can see it as a way to unwind from the day's stressors and clear your mind.

Taking a mid-day relaxation break can also be immensely helpful to recharge, refresh and reduce any mounting stress and anxiety you may be dealing with.

We will discuss two types of relaxation techniques: Active Relaxation and Passive Relaxation.

Both can be quite effective.

We purposefully divided the techniques into two types to better suit different types of people.

You may find it easier to relax with active participation in the process.

Or you might find letting go and surrendering to the process more effective.

Only you will know which approach works best for you.

Active Relaxation Techniques

Active relaxation is any technique that involves actively doing something in order to promote relaxation.

Most breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, visualization, and most forms of meditation would be considered active.

You can find more in-depth explanations and additional techniques throughout this site.

Soft Belly Breathing

Soft Belly Breathing is a simple but powerful technique made popular by James Gordon, M.D., with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine as an effective relaxation technique for anxiety, stress, and trauma. It's been used to help treat war veterans and victims of violence and natural disasters, among others.

You can learn more about Dr. Gordon's work at

Visualization Technique: "The Secret Garden"

Visualization can be a powerful technique for relaxation. Visualization's ultimate purpose and power is its ability to bypass the anxious rational mind and create positive feelings and emotions from the imagination and subconscious mind. The visualized experience can become so real that it realigns your mental and emotional state.

In the technique below, you will be exploring the interior world of your "secret garden."


  • 1. Seat yourself in a comfortable position
  • 2. Begin by closing your eyes and taking slow deep breaths for several minutes
  • 3. As you begin to relax, imagine an elevator in front of you
  • 4. Picture it in detail; what kind of elevator is it, what does it look like?
  • 5. Enter the elevator and press the button for level G, your Secret Garden
  • 6. The elevator doors close, and you begin descending down until it reaches level G
  • 7. The elevator doors open, revealing a garden, the most beautiful and tranquil garden you have ever seen
  • 8. What does it look like? What does it feel like?
  • 9. Step into your garden and imagine in detail everything you see and feel
  • 10. What types of plants do you see? Can you smell them?
  • 11. What other things are there? Fountains? Statues? Birds?
  • 12. Can you hear the sounds? Can you smell the fresh air?
  • 13. What type of weather or climate is your garden?
  • 14. Is the temperature mild with a cool breeze? Or warmer, like a tropical island?
  • 15. As you see, smell, hear, and feel everything in your garden, walk over to the center of your garden
  • 16. Find a place to sit at the center. It could be a large tree or fountain. Maybe a statue of a God or Goddess. Or a symbol that you have a strong affinity for…
  • 17. Seat yourself comfortably in front of this centerpiece at the center of your garden
  • 18. Relax and breathe slowly and calmly
  • 19. Continue to feel, hear and smell everything in your garden as you feel complete calm and relaxation wash over you
  • 20. This is your garden; no one else can enter here. You feel complete safety and peace
  • 21. Continue to relax and renew yourself here for as long as you desire
  • 22. When you are ready to return, simply walk back to the elevator
  • 23. Stepping inside, press the button L to return upwards
  • 24. Once the elevator returns to the original location you entered from, open your eyes
  • 25. Feel free to return to your Center Garden whenever you desire

Focused Muscle Relaxation: "The Golden Ball"

Focused Muscle Relaxation is an effective way to relax the body from head to toe. If you've dealt with anxiety for any length of time, I'm willing to bet you hold a lot of tension in your body. This practice is an excellent way to release that tension and promote greater relaxation.

You will imagine a golden ball of energy passing from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. As the ball enters each area, you will breathe in and hold the breath and physically contract (tighten and hold for 8 seconds) that area. As you exhale, it moves away, and you will release the tension.


  • 1. Get into a comfortable position and close your eyes
  • 2. Breathe deeply for several minutes
  • 3. Allow yourself to become more and more comfortable wherever you are
  • 4. Feel the surface you are resting on, allowing it to support the weight of your body fully
  • 5. Let go of trying to support your weight or any part of your body at all
  • 6. Now breathe in deeply and imagine a warm golden ball at the crown (top/center) of your head
  • 7. At the end of the inhalation, hold your breath while contracting/tightening the crown of your head (in this case, you can imagine contracting the crown of your head): retain the breath and the contraction for 8 secs
  • 8. Exhale and feel that ball of energy move slowly down from your crown to your face
  • 9. As it passes down, feel the warmth and relaxation it has left at the crown, with calming thoughts as it passes
  • 10. When the golden ball reaches your face, inhale while contracting all the muscles of the face (lips, mouth, eyes, forehead, jaw, etc.): hold your breath and the contraction for 8 secs.
  • 11. Exhale, releasing the contraction, feel your face relax completely as you feel the energy from the golden ball move down to your throat
  • 12. Inhale, hold your breath, and contract the muscles of your throat
  • 13. Exhale and feel your throat relax completely as the golden energy moves down to your chest
  • 14. Inhale and hold your breath while contracting the muscles of the chest
  • 15. Exhale and feel your chest muscles relax completely as the ball of energy continues down to the stomach
  • 16. (Continue to repeat this pattern with your stomach, groin, the front of your legs, and your feet)
  • 17. Really feel that golden energy removing all tension with the arrival of the golden ball on the inhale and contraction and the release, warmth, and relaxation on the exhale as it continues moving down
  • 18. After you finish your feet, continue to the backside of your body in the same way, working your way back up to your crown (top of your head)
  • 19. (The backside will be: the backside of your legs, your butt, lower back, middle and upper back, neck, and then crown)
  • 20. You can complete this circle as many times as you wish!

Passive Relaxation Techniques

Passive relaxation techniques involve standing aside to accept, allow, and let go. Passive relaxation techniques generally involve watching the breath, developing the witness, acceptance, and letting go. These can be combined to make one relaxation session or used independently.

These can be powerful relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress – as they allow you to detach and give you space from your overactive mind and need for control.

Watching the Breath/ Awareness of Breathing

Watching the breath is a simple but effective relaxation technique for anxiety – it is also the primary form of most meditation practices. It can help quiet the mind, relax the body and temporarily allow you to let go of trying to control. Watching the breath can also be an excellent introduction to developing the "witness."


  • 1. Get into a comfortable seated position with your hands on your legs or lap
  • 2. Close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths for 1-2 mins
  • 3. Now instead of trying to control or slow the breath, simply begin to watch it
  • 4. Notice how your breath happens all on its own – there is no need to make any effort
  • 5. Notice how your breath literally is breathing you
  • 6. Allow your breath to happen on its own, at its own speed and depth
  • 7. Notice where your focus seems to go on the actual sensation of breathing
  • 8. It could be the feel of the air passing into and out of your nostrils – or it could be the rising and falling of the chest or stomach
  • 9. Choose one sensation to place your attention on and watch it throughout the technique
  • 10. Remember, you are watching the present experience of breathing as it is happening now – not thinking about breathing
  • 11. Whenever you notice you are trying to take back control of your breath, simply release and gently allow it to go on on its own
  • 12. Feel the freedom and relaxation of simply observing the breath

"The Witness"

The witness or observer is pure conscious awareness unattached to your thoughts or ego. It is pure awareness that is always available to you. While it is incredibly simple, it can be challenging to achieve for a long time when first starting. Don't be discouraged. With practice, it will become easier.

The Witness can be used anytime – not just for relaxation. It can be effectively used when dealing with strong emotions or racing thoughts. It can be a powerful technique for experiencing thoughts and feelings without resistance or judgment.


  • 1. Get into a comfortable seated position with your hands on your legs or lap
  • 2. Close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths for 1-2 mins
  • 3. Begin watching the breath similar to the exercise above
  • 4. Notice how the breath breaths of its own accord
  • 5. Now begin to become very curious about your thoughts and feelings right now
  • 6. Begin observing your thoughts as if you were a scientist watching a rare process you've never witnessed before taking place in front of you
  • 7. It's something you've never seen before, so you have to observe it carefully - curiosity is essential here
  • 8. Where do the thoughts come from?
  • 9. What are the thoughts made of?
  • 10. Where do they go after they have passed through your mind?
  • 11. Observe in this detached, non-judging mode
  • 12. If feelings begin to form, watch those with curiosity as well
  • 13. If you find yourself trying to control your thoughts, feelings, or emotions, simply witness yourself trying to control your thoughts and feelings
  • 14. Let go of trying to interfere in any way
  • 15. There is no goal here; it's simply an experiment
  • 16. You may begin to feel immense peace

Total Acceptance & Letting Go

The concepts of acceptance and letting go can be applied beyond relaxation techniques. They can be powerful approaches to change, personal growth, healing, and more. Acceptance can be an entire mindset for approaching life and eliminating resistance. Letting go has the power to free you from your past stuck ways. We will focus on these two approaches to enter into powerful relaxation for this practice.


  • 1. Begin by getting into a comfortable position
  • 2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, and turn your attention inward
  • 3. Begin to notice the thoughts, feelings, or emotions you are having RIGHT NOW
  • 4. Allow them to be whatever they are as they happen
  • 5. Don't try to alter, edit or control your thoughts in any way – simply accept them as they are
  • 6. As you accept them, simply let them go and notice the next thought that appears
  • 7. The purpose here is to release your constant "grip" on your mind and need to control or trying to change your thoughts and feelings
  • 8. Begin to view your thoughts simply like clouds in the blue sky – they pass by, and then they are gone
  • 9. More clouds come, and then they are gone
  • 10. You can not hold onto clouds; they arise and then are gone again
  • 11. It may help to see your feelings and emotions as waves – building up and intensifying before calming down again and then disappearing – like waves in the ocean
  • 12. Continue to accept and let go of any thoughts, feelings, and emotions that arise in this moment
  • 13. If something arises in you, it may be helpful to ask yourself, "Could I let this go now?"
  • 14. In time you may find your thoughts have slowed, and the only feeling left is peace
  • 15. You can continue for as long as you feel


While not necessarily for relaxation, meditation can help to reduce stress, detach from anxious thinking, balance the mind, and reduce mental tension and striving.

There are many different forms and techniques of meditation. Too many to cover in this one article on relaxation.

If you're interested in learning more about meditation and meditation techniques, you can check out our in-depth article, which covers different types of meditation, mindfulness, postures, and tips. You can find that article HERE.

Having Trouble With the Techniques?

We have provided several simple but effective relaxation techniques that work great for anxiety.

If you are extremely anxious or having trouble sitting still long enough to do these techniques, try some of the following suggestions.

  • Try to use the techniques later in the day or whenever you won't be bothered and have fewer responsibilities to deal with
  • If your mind is particularly chatty and won't slow down, before doing the techniques take out a piece of paper and free-form write whatever comes into your mind; the key is writing quickly with no editing; afterward, crumple the paper up and throw it away; now begin the technique
  • Taking a hot shower or bath while using any of the techniques above can make it much easier to relax
  • If you're still struggling to relax, you can try combining these techniques with the proper anti-anxiety supplements (we have our recommended list HERE) or anti-anxiety technologies (which you can find HERE) to significantly enhance your ability to relax

You Don't Have to Struggle Alone

Therapy Resources Are Available That Can Help

Discover profound solutions to manage, control, and overcome your anxiety. Featuring supplements, techniques, tools and effective anxiety strategies that work. We base everything we recommend on the latest science and years of experience overcoming anxiety disorders. We're here to help!

Experience Profound States With Our Profound Series

anxiety and depression association of america
the american institute of stress
eft international
association for contextual behavioral science

Copyright 2024 Profound Anxiety Solutions