How to relax when body sensations freak you out

3 outward focussed relaxation techniques

Many relaxation techniques are built around progressive muscle relaxation or breathing and for good reason, they’re very effective. However if you’re someone who’s weirded out by their own body sensations you’re not alone. Of course it would be great for you to become calm and at ease with those sensations, and that’s something you can work on. However in the meantime when you’re stressed or anxious it’s good to have some techniques you know will help you to relax. So here are three techniques for you to try out that focus outward rather than inward.

woman with mug

Notice 3 things

  • Notice 3 things you can see. For example a lamp, a cushion and a mug.
  • Notice 3 things you can hear. For example birds singing, cars and the wind.
  • Notice 3 things you can feel. For example the air against your skin, warm of the sun, the feel of your clothes. (Miss out this step if it’s not comfortable.)
  • Notice another 3 things you can see.
  • Then notice another 3 things you can hear.
  • Then notice another 3 things you can hear.
  • Then notice another 3 things you can feel. (Again miss it out if it’s not comfortable for you.)
  • Keep cycling around until you run out of things to notice.
  • Then if you like you can leave it there or spend a few moments imagining pleasant sights, sounds and things you can feel (if comfortable).


Focus on an object

It could be a plant, vase, chair, paperweight, anything.

  • What’s the overall shape?
  • What colour is it? Are there multiple colours?
  • Is it something heavy or light?
  • Is it, smooth/rough, soft/hard, warm/cool?
  • Become aware of the details within it. Are there patterns, cracks, variations in colour?
  • Keep looking and noticing more about it until you’re ready to continue with your day

Red shoes

Add 3 things

This is a good one to help with worry or negative thinking. All you do is add 3 observations to what you’re saying to yourself.

For example:

  • “I suck at presenting” becomes “I suck at presenting and my chair is orange, it’s raining outside and it’s 11am.”
  • “I’m going to be late for my appointment” becomes “I’m going to be late for my appointment and I’m wearing red shoes, I’m walking past a tree and there’s a blue car over there.”

Often what’s stressing us out is ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. These methods all involve grounding yourself in the present. Try them out for yourself.