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The 3 & 5 technique

Posted by Bart Veerman on Saturday, August 10, 2019

A good friend asked me how to reduce stress the other day. A long time ago I wrote the following, it helped a lot of people in the tinnitus support group I was facilitating at the time, it could for you too:

The 3 & 5 technique: sure-fire relaxation

Proper relaxation is amazingly simple, yet hugely effective. Your brain can be in only one of two states: anxious or relaxed and we can exploit that to our advantage. If you know how to relax properly then you don’t have to be so uptight about anything.

Keep in mind that this technique works for humans only:

1) sit down somewhere nice and comfy and take a nice deep breath and breath out again. No, don't complicate things: the breathing out doesn’t have to be through your nose

2) at a pace that's comfortable for you, breath in while counting to three

3) and breath out while counting to five

Again, do it at a pace that’s comfortable for you. The counting doesn’t have to be mathematically perfect and you sure don’t need a metronome—just pace it nicely and keep repeating steps 2 and 3 until, well, you decide for how long. The point is to breath out longer than it takes to breath in and in just a few minutes you’ll find yourself relaxing. You then can reduce your breath-in count and increase your breath-out count, comfort permitting, and you'll relax even more.

What’s the scoop about relaxing this way instead of just flaking out on the couch? When breathing in and out like this your muscles are forced to relax. When your muscles relax they force your body to relax. When your body is relaxed your brain has no choice but to also relax.

When your brain is relaxed you’ll ease up on your thinking and the whole world becomes a lot easier to handle—this is based on honest to goodness medical principles.

This method of relaxation is pretty much the raw mechanics of things like hypnosis, meditation etc. but, of course, it don’t cost you $100 an hour when it’s packaged up with a fancy therapy name.

You can practice this anywhere, anytime: while stopped at a red traffic light, while in the washroom, during commercials on TV, whatever.

Watch out for the known side effects though: this technique tends to lower high blood pressure and/or cause people drift off in a wonderful sleep.

Of course you don’t do this while driving a car, operating machinery or whatever...

Oh, this technique works for humans only.

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