Learn The Technique of Sensory Relaxation

This is the first part of our series on Relaxation Techniques. This type of relaxation uses your five senses to help you relax.

You might find it useful to record the following words on a CD or ask someone to slowly read them out to you.  Make sure they take their time – there’s nothing relaxing about having someone rush through the words! The ideal situation is for you to become familiar enough with this to be able to speak some of the words to yourself inside your head whenever you feel stressed.

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Begin by lying down on a comfortable surface (like a sofa or bed) with your head supported by pillows.

Imagine that you are at the top of a flight of stairs looking down. At the bottom is a place of complete calmness and relaxation. Begin to slowly step down the stairs focussing on your breathing but also that calm place at the bottom of the stairs.

Go down one step at a time and feel that you are going towards a calm, comfortable, safe place. As you do you becoming calmer and more relaxed. Allow any images that come into your mind to float in and then float out again. You may also find that thoughts come and go. Allow them to come and go.

Now you are at the bottom imagine that you are looking at a field that is green and fresh. You see many beautiful colourful flowers begin to appear. Bright dazzling colours. Focus on one flower that is your favourite colour. Look at its petalsand leaves.

Now notice a dew drop suspended from one of the petals. Look closely at it and see the colours of the light within it. See it glimmering and shining.

Now really focus on the sound of rain gently falling and picture it in some woodland. Try to hear the gentle sound as the raindrops land on the leaves.  Imagine the wind as it blows through the trees. Imagine birds singing to each other in the trees.

Now think about being on a beach and hear the waves of the sea and rolling in and out. The noise begins quietly and then becomes louder before fading away again. Backwards and forwards it rolls. Listen for the wind as it blows in the air and the sounds of seagulls as they circle above the waves.

Now imagine the smell of something sweet you like to eat- your favourite cake or biscuit. Imagine it’s there in front of you and breath in its delicious smell. Focus on that smell and try not to lose it. If it goes think of it again and bring it back again.

Now think of bread baking and how that smells. Smell it close to you.

Now return to that sweet thing you liked. Imagine tasting it. Smell it and then slowly open your mouth and put it in. Just let it sit there in your mouth and then slowly begin to move it around your mouth with your tongue. Imagine its flavour spreading through your mouth and over your tongue. Swallow it and feel its flavour at the back of your throat.

Imagine a bowl of warm water and think about placing your hands in the warm water. Move them about and feel the water play about your fingers. Touch your hands under the water. Think about touching your hands gently and slowly and feeling each finger in turn. Imagine feeing your palms under the water.

Now think about stroking an animal or soft furry toy. The fur is very soft and warm. Imagine stroking it slowly and gently from the head along the back, feeling the softness of the fur playing on your skin. Feel the shape of what is under the fur.

Return your focus to your breathing and the relaxed feeling in your stomach.

Now you are at the foot of the stairs again but this time looking up at the world around you. Keeping your breathing relaxed and effortless, slowly begin to climb back up the stairs. Move higher up the stairs keeping your breathing relaxed but beginning to feel more alert. Keep becoming more alert as you near the top of the stairs. When you reach the top, open your eyes and take one deep breath and become alert.

By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH

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