Five Minute Relaxation sitting in a chair
For when you only have a short time to spare. It is better to have a chair with arms, but ideally you should be able to learn to relax anywhere you find yourself. Use a cushion in the small of your back if it helps. Make sure you are warm.

Sit upright and well back in the chair so that your thighs and back are supported, and rest your hand in the cradle position on your lap, or lightly on top of your thighs. If you like, take off your shoes, and let your feet rest on the ground. If they don't touch the floor, try and find something to rest them on. If you want to, close your eyes.

Begin by breathing out. Then breathe in easily, just as much as you need. Now breathe out slowly, with a slight sigh, like a balloon slowly deflating. Do this once more, slowly...breathe in...breathe out, feel the tension begin to drain away. Then go back to your ordinary breathing, even, quiet, steady.

Now direct your thoughts to each part of your body in turn, to the muscles and joints. Think first about your left foot. Your toes are still. Your foot feels heavy on the floor. Let both your feet, your toes and ankles, start to relax.

Now think about your legs. Let your legs feel completely relaxed and heavy on the chair. Your thighs and knees roll outwards when they relax, so let them go. Think about your back and your spine. Let the tension drain away from your back, and from your spine. Follow your breathing, and each time you breathe out, relax your back and spine a little more.

Let your abdominal muscles become soft and loose. There's no need to hold your stomach in tight, it rises and falls as you breathe quietly. Feel that your stomach is completely relaxed. No tension in your chest. Let your breathing be slow and easy, and each time you breathe out let go a little more. Now think about the fingers of your left hand - they are curved, limp and quite still: now the fingers of your right hand...relaxed...soft and still.

Let this feeling of relaxation spread up your arms - feel the heaviness in your arms - up to your shoulders. Let your shoulders relax, let them drop easily...and then let them drop even further than you thought they could. Think about your neck. Feel the tension melt away from your neck and shoulders. Each time you breathe out, relax your neck a little more.

Now, before we move on, just check to see if all these parts of your body are still relaxed - your feet, legs, back and spine, tummy, hands, arms, neck and shoulders. Keep your breathing gentle and easy. Every time you breathe out, relax a little more, and let all the tensions ease away from your body. No tensions - just enjoy this feeling of relaxation.

Now, think about your face. Let the expression come off your face. Smooth out your brow and let your forehead feel wide and relaxed. Let your eyebrows drop gently. There's no tension around your eyes...your eyelids slightly closed, your eyes are still. Let your jaw unwind...teeth slightly apart as your jaw unwinds more and more.

Feel the relief of letting go.

Now, think about your tongue, and throat. Let your tongue drop down to the bottom of your mouth and relax completely. Relax your tongue and throat. And your lips...lips slightly together, no pressure between them. Let all the muscles in your face unwind and let go - there's no tension in your face - just let it relax more and more.

Now, instead of thinking about yourself in parts, feel the all-over sensation of letting go, of quiet and of rest. Check to see if you are still relaxed. Stay like this for a few moments, and listen to your out...let your body become looser, heavier, each time you breathe out.

Now, continue for a little longer, and enjoy this time for relaxation.

Coming back - slowly, wriggle your hands a little, and your feet. When you are ready, open your eyes and sit quiet for a while. Stretch, if you want to, or yawn, and slowly start to move again.

If you would like to download an audio relaxation exercise, please click here

The National University of Ireland, Galway Student Counselling Service wishes to thank the Counselling Service of The University of Limerick for granting permission to reproduce this fact sheet.