Body Checking 101

Feeling & Expressing
Feeling & Expressing

Participants will recognize personal and physical responses to strong feelings, as well as practice self-calming relaxation techniques. Excellent as an open, close, or transition from an energetic activity.


  • Markers
  • Board or flip chart paper
  • Relaxing music


Ask participants, “How do we know when we’re upset?” Assist them in identifying physical ‘symptoms’ related to a stressful or upsetting situation. Students may share situations when they experienced these ‘symptoms’ if they wish. (ie. sweaty palms, heart beating fast, dry mouth, shaky voice, red blotches on skin, headache, tense muscles, clenching teeth, ‘butterflies’ in stomach, etc.). Tell your group that during this activity you’ll be talking about ways to calm down and relax when we’re feeling really angry, nervous, worried, afraid, or upset. The first thing we can do is to do an ‘internal check’ of our bodies. If we notice that we are experiencing some of the sensations described above, then it’s time to do something to help ourselves relax and calm down. Explain that you will be guiding them through a relaxation technique.


  1. If appropriate, have your group lie down on the floor, otherwise, have them sit at desks with their head down, etc. Dim the lights and play the relaxing music (preferably something without lyrics).
  2. Guide the group in this progressive muscle relaxation technique, as follows:

    - Close your eyes. Breathe in. Tighten up all the muscles in your feet, scrunch your toes up. Hold for a few seconds, while holding your breath.
    - Now exhale slowly and completely relax the muscles in your feet. Imagine the tension flowing out of your muscles like water being released from a dam (or other imagery like a rag doll).
    - Think about how warm and heavy your feet feel. Pay attention to the difference between how your muscles felt when you were tensing them, and how they feel when relaxed.
  3. Have the group move up their bodies, progressively tightening and relaxing the other major muscle groups:

    - Calves
    - Thighs
    - Buttocks
    - Back and stomach muscles
    - Hands and arms
    - Chest, shoulders, and neck
    - Face and jaw (clench teeth)

  4. After the group has completed the tension/relaxation exercise, allow them to rest quietly for a few moments, and then have them open their eyes and sit up. Ask them to take a deep breath, telling them to:

    - Breathe in through the nose
    - Keep a hand on the abdomen to make sure the abdominal muscles move out as the breath comes in
    - Hold breath in for a second
    - Breathe out slowly through the mouth
    - Let go of any remaining muscle tension noticed during the progressive relaxation
    - Take 3 deep breaths


  • Get creative and make modifications to suit your group.


  • There are no foreseeable safety concerns.


Ask the group if they feel a little more relaxed. Remind them that this is something that they can do during the course of the day when they start to feel stressed. Even one of these breaths can be calming. Wrap up the activity by inviting the group to share, with one another, their favourite ways to relax (ie. Yoga, music, massage, hobbies, a bath, etc.).

Obtained from: Croll, Ann and Langill, Corrine. “Warm Up Activity: Stand Up/Sit Down.” Healthy Transitions: Facilitator Resource Guide.

Originally sourced from: Building Dynamic Groups – Ohio State Extension.