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Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques

Cravings can make people feel agitated, anxious or edgy. Having relaxation techniques to use in these situations can help you relax, manage cravings and stay on track.

Finding relaxation techniques you like and practising these when you are feeling strong can make it easier to use the techniques when a craving hits. Here are two to get you started. After you try these there are lots of other options that our counsellors can chat with you about.

Breathing relaxation

  1. Sit (or lie) down and close your eyes, or let your eyes gently rest on an object in the room.
  2. Inhale deeply and slowly, while counting to four.
  3. Exhale slowly, counting to four.
  4. Inhale deeply and slowly again as you count to four, then hold your breath for two seconds.
  5. Exhale slowly, counting to four.
  6. Repeat inhale and exhale cycle for several minutes, and consciously relax.
  7. As you inhale, imagine yourself in a safe, comfortable, beautiful place. Continue to breathe as you hold the image in your mind. Feel how relaxed you are.
  8. When you are ready, become aware of yourself in the room once again, wriggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes.

Listen to the breathing relaxation exercise (767KB MP3)

Progressive muscle relaxation

  1. Rest your arms by your side, and close your eyes.
  2. Inhale as you count to 4, and exhale as you count to 4, until your mind is quiet and you feel calm.
  3. As you continue to breathe slowly, tense each muscle group for 10 seconds (don't tense so much that you feel cramp or pain), then relax for 10 seconds, starting with your:
  • Feet: curl your toes, then relax.
  • Calves: tighten your calf muscles, then relax.
  • Thighs: tighten your thigh muscles, then relax.
  • Buttocks: tighten your buttocks, then relax.
  • Stomach: pull your tummy in, then relax.
  • Chest: breathe in deeply, then breathe out and relax.
  • Hands: clench your hands into fists, then relax.
  • Lower arms: bend your hands up at the wrists, then relax.
  • Upper arms: bend your arms up at the elbow, then relax.
  • Shoulders: lift your shoulders up, then relax.
  • Neck: roll your neck gently to the left, then the right, then forward, and relax.
  • Jaw: clench your teeth, then relax.
  • Forehead and scalp: close your eyes tightly, then relax.
  • Eyes: raise your eyebrows, then relax.
  • Continue slow, controlled breathing for five more minutes, and enjoy the feeling of relaxation.
  • When you're ready, have a good stretch and bring your awareness back into the room.

Listen to the muscle relaxation exercise (3.3MB MP3)

If you would like some one-on-one support, including advice about other relaxation techniques, you can chat to one of our counsellors anytime. Our service is free, confidential and available 24/7. You can also chat with others with similar experiences on our forum.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through Find support.

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What can I do next?

What can I do next?

Find some additional tools to help yourself while making a change, this could include: