6. Empowering yourself through support and self-care

Relaxation techniques

Muscle relaxation

The goal of this technique is to gently stretch your muscles to reduce stiffness and tension. The exercises can be done while sitting in a chair.

Ways to relax your muscles:

  1. Shoulder shrugs: Lift both shoulders in a shrugging motion. Try to touch your ears with your shoulders. Then, let your shoulders drop down after each shrug. Repeat three to five times.
  2. Overhead arm stretches: Raise both arms straight above your head. Interlace your fingers like you’re making a basket with your palms facing down (toward the floor). Stretch your arms toward the ceiling. Then, keeping your fingers interlaced, rotate your palms to face upward (toward the ceiling). Stretch toward the ceiling. Repeat three to five times. If it is not comfortable to do this step with your arms overhead, try it with your arms reaching out in front of you.
  3. Stomach tension: Pull your stomach muscles toward your back as tight as you can tolerate. Feel the tension and hold on to it for ten seconds. Then, let go of the muscles and let your stomach relax, further and further. Focus on the feeling of release from tension. Notice the heavy, yet comfortable, sensation in your stomach.
  4. Knee raises: Reach down and grab your right knee with one or both hands. Pull your knee up toward your chest (as close to your chest as is comfortable). Hold your knee there for a few seconds before returning your foot to the floor. Reach down, grab your left knee with one or both hands and bring it up toward your chest. Hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat the sequence three to five times.
  5. Foot and ankle rolls: Lift your feet and stretch your legs out. Rotate your ankles and feet three to five times in one direction, then three to five times in the other direction.