Whether you are about to walk into a conference room for a presentation or meeting with a potential investor for the first time, sometimes a need exists for a quick, and easy way to relax. Research has demonstrated that in order to operate at our personal best we must be in an optimal state of arousal. That is to say, with the right amount of anxiety our performance is highest – too little or too much anxiety and our ability to think clearly and creatively rapidly diminish. Mini relaxation exercises like the ones described below are helpful to use in the moment to reduce stress and make a great impression.
When you’ve got 1 minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in – your hands should rise. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out – your hands should fall. Repeat as necessary.
When you’ve got 3 minutes
Stop what you are doing and sit down. Check your body from head to toe for tension. First relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers.
Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, try to relax even more.
When you’ve got 5 minutes
Spend five minutes of self-massage. Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Now use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.
Now massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your elbows to your temples. Finally, close your eyes. Cup your hands loosely over your face and just inhale and exhale easily for a short while.
When you’ve got 10 minutes
Try imagery. Start by sitting comfortably in a quiet space. Breathe deeply and evenly for a few minutes. Now picture yourself in a place that conjures up good memories. Engage your senses to passively observe the pleasures around you. Allow intrusive thoughts to gently escape your mind and instead fill the space with positive images and emotions.
About the Author
Rochelle Perper, Ph.D., founder of Therapy Changes, is a licensed clinical psychologist in Point Loma. She has established a caring practice focused on helping patients better navigate and manage life’s difficult transitions. Dr. Perper provides action-oriented therapy customized for individuals, families and couples. Her therapeutic approach involves helping people change their thoughts and behaviors from negative to positive in order to enhance their productivity and satisfaction.