There are a number of relaxation techniques to help you manage stress and also improve your concentration, productivity and overall well-being.

If you need help, ask a therapist or counselor. He or she can offer more detailed instructions and coaching to help you perfect these techniques.

Before you begin any of the relaxation techniques, here are a few tips before you get started:

  • Find a quiet, relaxing place, where you will be alone for 10-20 minutes to do these exercises. The techniques work best if there are no distractions.
  • Practice once or twice a day.
  • Stick with the technique that works best for you. Not every technique will work for every person.
  • Keep trying. Don’t worry if you don’t notice a major change immediately. You may need to practice for a few weeks before you begin to feel the benefits.
  • Try one or more of the techniques described below.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique can help you relax the major muscle groups in your body, and it’s easy to do.

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sit in a favorite chair or lie down.
  2. Begin with your facial muscles. Frown hard for 5-10 seconds and then relax all your muscles.
  3. Work other facial muscles by scrunching your face up or knitting your eyebrows for 5-10 seconds. Release. You should feel a noticeable difference between the tense and relaxed muscles.
  4. Move on to your jaw. Then, move on to other muscle groups – shoulders, arms, chest, legs, etc. – until you’ve tensed and relaxed individual muscle groups throughout your whole body.
  5. Progressive Muscle Exercise.


This is the process of focusing on a single word or object to clear your mind. As a result, you feel calm and refreshed.

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  2. Sit or lie in a relaxing position.
  3. Close your eyes and concentrate on a calming thought, word or object. You may find that other thoughts pop into your mind. Don’t worry, this is normal. Try not to dwell on them. Just keep focusing on your image or sound.
  4. If you’re having trouble, try repeating a word or sound over and over. (Some people find it helpful to play soothing music while meditating.) Gradually, you’ll begin to feel more and more relaxed.


This technique uses your imagination, a great resource when it comes to reducing stress.

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Imagine a pleasant, peaceful scene, such as a lush forest or a sandy beach.
  3. Picture yourself in this setting.
  4. Focus on the scene for a set amount of time (any amount of time you are comfortable with), then gradually return to the present.

The following imagery exercises are used with permission from the University of Texas at Austin (CMHC).

Deep Breathing

One of the easiest ways to relieve tension is deep breathing.

  1. Lie on your back with a pillow under your head. Bend your knees (or put a pillow under them) to relax your stomach.
  2. Put one hand on your stomach, just below your rib cage.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose. Your stomach should feel like it’s rising.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely and letting your stomach fall.
  5. Repeat several times until you feel calm and relaxed. Practice daily.
  6. Once you are able to do this easily, you can practice this technique almost anywhere, at any time.

The following soundtrack is used with permission from the University of Mary Washington. Deep Breathing.


Biofeedback may be indicated as part of your treatment plan. Biofeedback is a tool that gives you information on the physiological responses that occur in your body through external measures.

Biofeedback trains you to become familiar with your own body’s unique patterns and responses to stress and anxiety.  Through this process, you can learn to control your body’s unique pattern and response rather than having them control you. For more information, call the counseling center at 424-2061 to be oriented to the biofeedback program.

Used with permission from UGA. We want to thank them for all their help.

Drawing and Coloring

Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community and connection. The circle concept exists in nature, is found in many religious symbols and represents wholeness. Mandalas are intricate designs that can be a part of the meditating experience.

When you color a mandala, your goal is to focus on the process of coloring, and be mindful of how it feels to color. It is very relaxing and calming. When you have finished, you have created a lovely picture. Download a mandala for coloring.

Listen Your Way to Calm

University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center’s Mind Body Labs—scroll down for audio files Guided Self-Compassion Meditations

MIT Medical: Sleep, Relaxation, and Stress Reduction Resources

Please Note: All our Web content is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be relied on to suggest a course of treatment and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation, or the advice of a physician or other qualified care provider or therapist. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider or therapist because of something you have read, heard, or seen on this website. Please do not listen to or read content while driving or performing other activities that require your attention.

Relax With Apps on the Go

If you have an Android or an iPhone, below are several apps that you can download for free! Download any/all that you would like to bring with you on your phone wherever you go.


UW Oshkosh Counseling Center
Student Success Center, Suite 240
750 Elmwood Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901