Deep breathingSlowly breathe in for a count of seven and exhale through pursed lips for seven counts. The exhalation should be like an audible sigh of relief. To be sure the exhalation is complete, count to yourself on thousand and one, one thousand and twoup to seven counts. Keep the breath light and soft and high in your throat.
Muscle relaxationThis method, which can be easily done at your desk, involves releasing tension in different parts of your body in sequence. Choose a particular muscle, then tense and release until you feel in control of that muscle. Do this with one muscle after another. If one resists, pull it into the position of relaxation; for instance, drop your tight jaw and hold it in that position until your face relaxes. This technique is especially useful if you tend to carry a lot of tension in your forehead or shoulders. This skill will also serve you well during labor when your uterus will contract involuntarily while you will be able to relax the rest of your body.
MeditationYou've relaxed your body; now it's time for your mind. Concentrate all your attention on the exercise you're doing. Deeply relax all your muscles. Breathe normally through your nose. Repeat a single word or a phrase to yourself over and over: this is called a mantra. Chant the word in rhythm with your breathing. Prevent troubling thoughts from entering your consciousness. If they do, refocus. When you're in a deeply relaxed meditative state, your blood pressure and heart rate drop, which enhances your felling of well-being.
MindfulnessLike mediation, this technique encourages moment-to-moment awareness. Focus on the present only or the job you are doing rather than letting your mind wander to what needs to be done or other worries.
Guided imageryClose your eyes and look within. Picture yourself in a relaxing situation. For example, imagine you're gliding in a canoe over the quiet blue waters of a mountain lake. Listen to the slap of the water on the boat, the sound of a bird singing, and fell the warmth of the sun. Studies have shown that blue is a particularly relaxing color for your imagined scene.