Mindful Relaxation

Mindful relaxation practices can be described as techniques for self-soothing, calming, and relaxation. Self-soothing is believed to be an effective tool in emotional regulation (Linehan 1993). Self-soothing is a positive, healthy response to feeling stressed, being in distress, or an intense emotional reaction. Self-soothing can be in response to a trigger and planned as a preventative tool (Davis et al. 2008; Norcross and Guy 2007).” (Cook-Cottone & Guyker, 2018, p. 162)


  • I did something intellectual (using my mind) to help me relax (e.g., read a book, wrote)
  • I did something interpersonal to relax (e.g., connected with friends)
  • I did something creative to relax (e.g., drew, played instrument, wrote creatively, sang, organized)
  • I listened to relax (e.g., to music, a podcast, radio show, rainforest sounds)
  • I sought out images to relax (e.g., art, film, window shopping, nature)
  • I sought out smells to relax (lotions, nature, candles/incense, smells of baking)


  • The “relaxation response” is a term used to describe a cluster of physiological changes, including decreased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood flow to the brain, and muscle relaxation, that occur when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged.

Specific Guidance:

  • Suggestions for activities to promote self-soothing and relaxation include:
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Deep breathing
    • Reading
    • Body scan
    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Yoga or tai chi
    • Drinking hot tea
    • Using a weighted blanket
    • Cuddling with a pet
    • Spending time in nature
  • TEDx Talk: How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains


  • The Relaxation Response – Updated and Expanded (25th Anniversary Edition), 2000 by Herbert Benson & Miriam Z. Klipper