How to Do Cued Relaxation

Published by Annie Barrett: 
October 2, 2023

A week ago, I had the privilege of co-leading a retreat for women healthcare providers. Self-care was one of the topics we discussed at length during the retreat. Caring for ourselves at work and finding ways to calm down, relax, and discharge stress during the workday was a major theme. One of the attendees shared a technique that I intuitively understood and practice but didn't have a term for it. Cued relaxation. 

Cued relaxation is a simple technique in which you set up a cue to remind you to consciously relax. This cue may be internal such as a physical symptom, an emotion or a behavior or it can be an external cue.

An example of an internal cue would be that when you find yourself clenching your jaw or hunching your shoulders, you pause, stop and breathe, allowing the tension to dissipate.

An example of an external cue would be that each time you get up to use the bathroom and wash your hands, you use your handwashing time to take a few deep breaths and say something supportive to yourself like, "you've got this" or "it's going to be alright."

If you make this a regular habit, you will find that tension does not build up in your body and mind as much as it did in the past and you'll leave work feeling a little lighter and more positive.

You can find a tip sheet with suggestions for how to do cued relaxation below.

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