Table 2. Sample Relaxation Exercise

Slow Rhythmic Breathing for Relaxation
  1. Breathe in slowly and deeply.
  2. As you breathe out slowly, feel yourself beginning to relax; feel the tension leaving your body.
  3. Now breathe in and out slowly and regularly, at whatever rate is comfortable for you. You may wish to try abdominal breathing. If you do not know how to do abdominal breathing, ask your nurse for help.
  4. To help you focus on your breathing and breathe slowly and rhythmically: Breathe in as you say silently to yourself, "in, two, three." Breathe out as you say silently to yourself, "out, two, three." Each time you breathe out, say silently to yourself a word such as peace or relax.
  5. You may imagine that you are doing this in a place you have found very calming and relaxing, such as lying in the sun at the beach.
  6. Do steps 1 through 4 only once or repeat steps 3 and 4 for up to 20 minutes.
  7. End with a slow deep breath. As you breathe out say to yourself "I feel alert and relaxed."

Additional points:
  • If you intend to do this for more than a few seconds, try to get in a comfortable position in a quiet environment. You may close your eyes or focus on an object. This technique had the advantage of being very adaptable in that it may be used for only a few seconds or for up to 20 minutes.

Adapted with permission from: McCaffery M. and Beebe A. Pain: Clinical manual for nursing practice. St. Louis: C.V. Mosby.

From: 1a, Adult Pain Management: Operative Procedures

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