When you practice deep relaxation, it is important to be in a quiet, warm place where you will not be disturbed, wear loose clothing, be either sitting or lying down with your arms by your sides and your legs uncrossed.

Do not try too hard as this can bring on tension but allow the relaxation to just happen without forcing it. In the beginning, some people try too hard and consequently they get more tense and panicky. This is perfectly normal and will pass as your body becomes accustomed to being properly relaxed. Follow the instructions but take things slowly.

You should practice this relaxation programme at least twice a day until you know it off by heart and are able to relax any set of muscles at any time.

Try to keep your mind focused on the word relax. Keep your breathing regular, shallow and relaxed. Don’t hold your breath and, notice how as you breathe out, you relax a little more. Keep your eyes closed. Breathe in and out through your nose and each time you breathe out, relax a little more. Keep concentrating on the word relax.

The following exercises demonstrate the difference between tension and relaxation.

The muscles in your hands and forearms:

You tense these muscles by clenching your fists as tightly as you can.

The muscles in your upper arms:

You tense these muscles by bending your arms at the elbows and trying to touch your wrists to your shoulders.

The muscles in the back of your arms:

You tense these muscles by straightening your arms as hard as you can.

The muscles in your shoulders:

You tense these muscles by shrugging your shoulders tightly into your neck.

The muscles in your neck:

You tense these muscles by pressing your head back as far as you can.

The muscles in your forehead:

You tense these muscles by raising your eyebrows as though enquiring.

The muscles in your brows and eyelids:

You tense these muscles by frowning and squeezing your eyes tightly shut.

The muscles in your jaw:

You tense these muscles by clenching your teeth as hard as you can.

The muscles in your tongue and throat:

You tense these muscles by pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

The muscles in your lips and face:

You tense these muscles by pressing your lips together tightly.

The muscles in your chest:

You tense these muscles by taking a deep breath and holding it.

The muscles in your stomach:

You tense these muscles by making your stomach muscles hard as though expecting a punch.

The muscles in your hips and lower back:

You tense these muscles by arching your back and clenching your buttocks.

The muscles in your legs and feet:

You tense these muscles by straightening your legs and pointing your toes down.