Two useful relaxation techniques

Develop your relaxation skills with these two useful approaches that people with pain find helpful . . .

Time-out relaxation

Making time to practise and focus on relaxing will help you learn how to relax fully and deeply. For a ‘time-out’ relaxation session, set aside about twenty to thirty minutes.

  1. Listen to a relaxation recording – there are lots of free relaxations recordings available online, or you can use a relaxation app.
  2. Lie down on a bed or mat, or sit in your most comfortable chair. Try to find a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed.
  3. Try and look at your relaxation sessions as part of your self care skills, viewing it in the same way as a daily activity programme.

TIP: When you first learn a relaxation technique, being in a quiet, comfortable place can help.

If you wish, a partner or friend could do the relaxation session with you. Or you may prefer to do it alone.

NOTE: If you plan to use a relaxation recording, don’t use it while driving or operating machinery!

Quick relaxation

As well as using a ‘time-out’ technique, you can start to use relaxation in everyday situations. As soon as you notice any tension or hardness build in your muscles, practise ‘letting go’ of the tension, ‘breathe it gently away’ and relax.

When you have had a bit more practice, you can use relaxation and breathing in more stressful situations – for instance, when you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated.


You can also practise ‘scanning’. This means checking your body for tension by noticing your feet, your legs, your knees, your hips, your abdomen, your chest, your shoul-ders, your neck, your head, your face and your jaw.

As you notice any tension let it go, release it from you. As a tip, start from toes and work upwards, ‘letting go’ of your tension on the out-breath.


You can also observe your breathing, and remember to breathe calmly and comfortably. As you breathe in, your tummy should rise a little; then rest back as you breathe out. Don’t force things, as this may make you feel a little ‘light-headed’.

Use ‘reminders’

For example, put a sticker on the fridge or on your mirror, and check for tension each time you see the sticker.

Learn more, with Ten Footsteps

You can find out more about how learning relaxation skills can help reduce pain and improve your day-to-day life, in Ten Footsteps to Living Well with Pain, our step-by-step guide to pain self-management