It is important first of all to understand whet you are trying to achieve by learning to relax. Relaxation can be of greater value to you than simply learning how to flop down in a heap on a bed.
At it is most successful, teaching yourself to relax will help you to feel tranquil when it is appropriate to do so, allowing you to switch your attention at will from the noises to whatever else you are doing.
As a deliberate strategy for dealing with stress, it will help you to cope calmly without excessive muscular and mental effort. Secondly, choose a method and practise it so that you begin to recognize when you are feeling tense and or mentally overcharged and when you are feeling calm and mentally at peace.
It is difficult to define relaxation in a positive sense but you will learn to recognize the state as you practise the exercise. You will go into it more quickly and more deeply as time goes on. It has been described as a floating sensation. You are awake with a clear mind in fact images to take on a vivid, dream like quality. Although you are sleepy, relaxation helps you to pass into a state of sleep more easily.
There are several methods to help you learn how to relax. One method is to learn the difference between muscle tension and relaxation by alternately tensing and relaxing muscle groups in different part of the body. Other methods focus on breathing, or on self suggestion of warmth and heaviness, or no conjuring up pleasant and relaxing mental images.
What all they have in common is the requirement to sit or lie comfortably without external distraction. With your eyes closed your attention is fully in the technique you are following. This may involve listening to repeated instructions given in a low monotonous voice while at the same time you are concentrating on your immediate feelings and sensations. The effect is to produce both mental and bodily calmness. Your body is likely to feel heavy and limp and your breathing will be slow and gentle.
Second, the actual method you use is probably not that important as long as you like it. If you have any joint or muscle problems you should avoiding the muscle tensing relaxing method. Strenuous tensing is not, in any case, necessary. Mental calmness can also be achieved by the method of antigenic training or through transcendental meditation. If you have a more physical orientation, you may prefer Yoga, or the Alexander Technique.
Third, for some people to get go and relax is itself unpleasant. Letting go may allow thoughts to emerge that you would rather suppress. Relaxation may produce sensations that are unfamiliar to you, as if you losing control of your body, exposed and vulnerable. You might even feel tears welling up in your eyes and worry about reacting in this way. These effects should not be long lasting and so it is worth persisting. If they continue to concern you, seek professional advice.
Fourth, having learned “passive relaxation” you should go on to apply it actively as a technique for dealing with stressful situations, and even to adopt it as part of your daily philosophy.