One of the exercises that you can use is to use imagery along with breathing exercises to help relax and go to sleep. This exercise may also help with people who may be experiencing nightmares as well.
Let’s start with the breathing as this is what allows you to increase your oxygen levels and helps you to relax. Take a slow deep breathe imagine filling your lungs from the bottom to top. For women this is not as natural as you thing as we tend to be shallow breathers. Once you have filled your lungs hold it for the slow count of four then slowly exhale to the count of 8. This will also help you to increase the use of your longs. The breath hold allows some of the small airways we do not usually use to open.
The second step is to use imagery. Choose a place you want to be. I personally am a warm white beach person or on a flower covered meadow person. You choose an image that suits your personality. Now focus on that image. Image the smell of the air, the temperature of the sun, fell the grass under your feet. The more you can focus on the details the more it will help you to relax.
In my mind I travel to a valley between the mountains. I am lying looking up at the sky watching the clouds pass through the sky. I feel the grass under my hands and between my fingers. I smell the sweet smell of violets and wildflower. I can hear the wind across the pond and rustling in the leaves. The more I concentrate the more relaxed I become. Along with the slow deep breathing I can feel my muscles relax. I allow myself to float along and eventually I drift off to sleep.
This exercise was taught to me when I was in high school as a way to get past my test anxiety. I found that doing this exercise for just three to five minutes really reduces my stress. I use this on nights when I can not turn off my mind to ideas or to my family. It allows me to drift and it does help minimize the nightmares I experience.
Are there exercises or imagery you use to help you to relax and unwind?