If you become a really expert relaxer your nervousness and worries will vanish. You will have a new lease of life. Just let go your muscles, and your mind will let go of you.

This means relaxing all muscles: legs, arms, back, stomach, chest, fingers, jaws, nostrils, eyes, tongue, throat, vocal chords … every muscle, from the top of your head to your toes.

It isn't easy. So don't get discouraged if you don't feel much better the first day or the first week. Turning yourself into a good relaxer needs eight or ten weeks of practice.

The first step is the most important. You'll need:

  • A quiet bedroom.
  • Four small pillows.
  • A light, warm blanket.

And arrange that you are NOT disturbed for at least half an hour.

Go all limp

Undress. Just wear a petticoat, or something that won't hamper your breathing. Place one small pillow under your neck. This will tilt your head slightly towards the head of the bed.

Next, put one pillow under your knees, so they are bent upward and outward. Turn the legs slightly outward, so you feel their weight on the outside of the calves. Put the other two pillows on either side of your chest and drop your arms limply on them.

Now you are ready to begin.

Let one arm go as limp as possible. Without moving any other muscle, bend your hand upward at the wrist. You will feel a slight tension in the upper side of your forearm.

Then let your hand down slowly. The tension gradually diminishes. Do this several times, till you can feel the tension has completely gone.

Lightly press the hand downward. This will give you a slight tension on the underside of the forearm. Slowly release this tension till you can't feel it.

Be sure you note the tensions in your forearm, and not the strain at the wrist. It is important to know the difference between strain and tension. When you lift something, you feel a strain.

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That tired feeling

Tension is harder to identify. It is a subtle, and usually unconscious, contraction or rigidity of muscles when you are not doing anything. This tension can make you wake up with a "tired feeling."

There are plenty of people who have never really rested since they were children. They "relax" by playing golf, or going to the beach, but that is recreation, not relaxation.

When relaxing your legs, move each foot backward and forward so you feel a slight tension first on the shinbone muscle and then on the calf. Then slightly tense the muscles on the upper and lower side of the thighs.

Then relax the muscles of the body. The main thing in each case is to note the tension and how, as you let go of the muscles, it disappears.

Relaxing the jaw is the next step (a lot of people tend to clench their jaws in the determination to relax). Just let your lower jaw sag. Keep your lips lightly together. (This will stop you breathing through your mouth.)

Then let your eyelids slowly drop. Let your body go as limp as you can. Try to feel like a wet dishrag.

When you are completely relaxed, say silently to your arms, "Let go. Let go." Gradually your breathing will get slower. As it does, keep saying to your arms, "Let go-more-more-more."

Sounds silly, doesn't it? But it is important to talk to your muscles. Talk to the muscles, not to yourself or to your mind. This will help to develop the habit of relaxing.

Two sets of muscles - those of the eyes and of the speech - need special instruction. To relax speech muscles, let the muscles go completely.

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Keep your worries at bay

Count to 10 out loud to produce tension. Then continue counting in lower and lower tones till the feeling of tension is gone. Repeat many times.

When it comes to relaxing the eyes, the results in curing worry are almost unbelievable … if you can stop "looking" at your worries, they'll disappear.

This is because you always have visual images of the things you are worrying about. You actually stare at your troubles with all your might so your eyes are naturally tense.

Doctors have discovered that when the eye muscles are completely relaxed these mental pictures vanish. So does worry.

  1. Lie down in a quiet room, and let all your body muscles go as limp as possible.
  2. Wrinkle your forehead vigorously, and slowly relax it. Tenseness will go.
  3. Close eyelids tightly, not contracting any other muscles. Slowly let the lids relax.
  4. Lids closed and relaxed, turn the eyes to the right, left, up, and down. Next (lids still closed), imagine looking straight ahead. Do not try to hold eyeballs.
  5. Lids closed and relaxed, let the eyeball muscles go completely till you feel you are not looking at all. It will help if you stiffen one arm and gradually let the arm and eyes relax together.
  6. Eyes open, imagine someone at the end of the bed is holding up the index finger of each hand, horizontally, three feet apart. Look from one finger to the other. Then imagine the fingers moved to two feet apart, then one foot, and then brought to a point.
  7. Relax the eyes as well as possible for several minutes. Imagine a car passing by. Note a slight tension as though the eyes were following it. Relax again. Imagine other objects, both moving and stationary. After a few days' practice with this, imagine reading a newspaper.
  8. Finally, apply this last step to whatever worries you.

You will discover you are looking at these people or objects in the same way you are worrying about them. You can get rid of them by ceasing to look at them.

It is best to follow a definite program of relaxation. This program may sound formidable. But the benefits it should bring make it worthwhile.

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