A quick & easy relaxation technique

If you have tight muscles, find it difficult to relax or struggle to get to sleep then this 3 minute exercise may be a game changer for you! We all have stress in our lives, some positive stress (eu-stress) that promotes growth and change or negative stress (dis-stress) that causes damage to our nervous system, hormonal system and reduced energy levels and quality of life. It is inevitable that our body and mind will encounter stress from time to time.

Theres no arguing that stress is unavoidable in the world we live in. But, all is not lost...How can we stand above the stressful events and kaos going on all around us? It is crucial to understand that it is our response to stress and how we manage it that dictates how much damage to our body, mind, habits, relationships and quality of life that ensues.


The technique I describe below can help to relax your muscles and slow you mind...in just 3 minutes or less! It is one of many activities that can help you to bring your stress levels down, improve your breathing, relax your muscles and get you back into a state where your body is more able to rest, relax and repair.


This technique also helps to increase awareness of your body and identify any areas that may be tight and in need of attention. When you notice a certain body area or muscle tight, you can use this technique on just the one area or on that particular muscle to increase blood flow, relax the area and promote healing.

3 Minute Relaxation Exercise

Some tips when performing this exercise:

Timing - Before bed to help with sleep any time of the day for relaxation. Best done more than half an hour after a snack or 1 hour after a meal

Position - Sitting or laying down in a comfortable position

Location - Anywhere - ideally laying down on the floor or bed. It will likely be more effective if done in a quiet area where you know you won’t be disturbed

For Sleep - If doing this before sleep, set the intention to fall asleep before you complete the whole sequence

Bonus Effect - Add relaxing music or use relaxing essential oils to enhance the relaxation further



This technique is made up of a pattern of alternating contracting and then relaxing the muscles completely.

Contraction Phase

Imagine contracting the muscles or body area by tightening through the area indicated and hold for 5-8 seconds. Breathe in as you contract the muscles.

Relaxation Phase

Breathe out on the relaxation phase and let all tension go from the muscle. Imagine you have just popped a water balloon and the water (tension) is running out.  After 5 seconds move to the next area.

Progressively move through areas of the body in this sequence:

Right foot – Right lower leg – Right whole leg – Right buttock – Left foot – Left lower leg – Left whole leg – Left buttock – Right hand – Right forearm and hand – Right whole arm – Right shoulder – Left hand – Left forearm and hand – Left whole arm – Left shoulder – Abdomen – Chest – Lower Back – Upper back – Neck – Shoulder – Scalp – Face.

Closing Phase

After completing this series, take 5 deep, full breaths into your abdomen to the count of 4 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds, imagining any residual tension dissolving.  You may repeat this series if required.


Make this part of your nightly routine, or perform it when you need some extra support to relax, get to sleep or reduce muscle tension. Take the time to support your system and give back to yourself, your body will thank you for it.


Written by Dr. Jess Harvey B.Sc. (Anat, Phys), B.Ap.Sci (Comp. Med.), Ma Osteo., Registered Osteopath and Director of Head 2 Toe Health, a multidisciplinary clinic in Brisbane also providing Acupuncture, Massage, Life Coaching and Counselling – where we aim to get you as well as possible, as fast as possible, permanently.  We believe in a thorough approach to restoring and maintaining health and address many aspects of our lifestyles that can contribute to pain, stiffness, dis-ease and disease.  For any further information, please contact us on info@head2toehealth.com.au or 07) 3208 8308.