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In addition to medications and physical therapies, relaxing regularly and limiting your stress can help relieve your pain, as our minds and bodies are intricately connected.

You may want to try different relaxation techniques: deep breathing exercises, meditation, visualization techniques, progressive relaxation and biofeedback. As little as 20 minutes of relaxation a day can have health benefits, including reduced anxiety and an increased sense of well-being. Relaxation is particularly important after a period of activity (physical or mental), when you are feeling stressed, and before bedtime, to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Choose a place in your house that will be your “relaxation space,” preferably a place where you can be alone, uninterrupted, for at least 10 minutes at a time. You may need to let your family know that this is a time when you want to be left alone.

Lie down on your bed or a comfortable couch and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths to settle in. Tell yourself that this is your time. When you feel settled, as you breathe in through your nose, say “re” silently to yourself, and then say "lax" as you exhale through your mouth.

An option is to also count to four as you inhale through your nose, pause, and then breathe out through your mouth for a count of four. It doesn’t matter how high you count, as long as you don’t force your breath. Try to do this for 10 minutes twice a day.

This breathing exercise can also be done at any time of day, for a few minutes, when you start to feel stressed. For example, if you are working and start to feel anxious, feel a headache coming on or a stiff neck, take a couple of minutes to do this relaxation exercise before you continue with your work. Do this as soon as you recognize your particular symptoms of stress. The earlier that you can break the stress-fatigue cycle with a relaxation technique, the better.

You can also do this simple exercise after you get into bed to help you fall asleep. It will help reduce worries that are interfering with your sleep. If you wake during the night with your mind racing, this exercise is also useful. As soon as you notice your thoughts returning to the "problem," go back to your "re-lax" phrase and try to simply focus on your breath and the present moment, to still your mind and feel calmer.


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