Relaxation Methods

Topics: Muscle, Relaxation technique, Stress management Pages: 12 (2750 words) Published: November 14, 2011
The relaxation response is perhaps one of the most important skills you will use to gain control over your body. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the relaxation response as having broad health benefits including the reduction of pain and restoration of sleep. In addition, research on the relaxation response has shown that this simple technique can: increase energy, decrease fatigue as well as increase arousal from a drowsy state. It can increase motivation, productivity, and improve decision-making ability. The relaxation response lowers stress hormone levels and lowers blood pressure.

Pain Muscle Tension Fatigue Sleep Disorders Stress Hi Blood Pressure Low Energy Drowsiness Anxiety Irritability

Relaxation Techniques

What is the Relaxation Response?
The relaxation response is defined as your personal ability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increases blood flow to the brain. Drugs can do some of this for you, however they often have unwanted side effects. You can get your body to relax just as well

UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey


without drugs while remaining conscious and aware at the same time. To be physically relaxed and mentally alert is the goal of the relaxation response. The Relaxation Response is not: Laying on the couch Sleeping Being Lazy The Relaxation Response is: A mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed Best done in an awake state Trainable and becomes more and more profound with practice There are many ways of achieving the relaxation response. Some of these techniques are called: ➣ Progressive Muscle Relaxation (tense & relax) ➣ Visual Imagery ➣ Deep Breathing ➣ Meditation ➣ Hypnosis ➣ Yoga ➣ Biofeedback

Which of these techniques is best?
To date, there is no data supporting the idea that one method is any better than any other. What does matter is your willingness to use a particular technique for your own health and your ability to gain relaxation through that method. We will discuss two different versions of the relaxation response: Progressive muscle relaxation (also known as Tense & Relax) and visual imagery.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Tense & Relax Technique)
Everyone has a resting level of muscle tension. Some people have a great amount of tension at rest, others less. When people are under acute stress, their muscles tend to have higher levels of resting tension that can be painful and fatiguing. After you tense and relax muscles, the tension level not only returns to the original

UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey


level, but will automatically drop below the original level, producing even greater relaxation to the muscles. Start the exercise by getting comfortable. You can keep your eyes open or shut. Most people prefer to close their eyes. If you are wearing glasses or contact lenses, you may want to remove them before starting the exercise. Try not to fall asleep. As you perform this exercise, you will tense different muscle groups above their normal level of tension. When tensing, you need not tense to the point of pain – simple tensing for 2 seconds is generally sufficient. Focus on how the tension feels. Then, let the tension go. Focus on the sensations of relaxation. Continue to breathe deeply and regularly throughout the exercise.

After you have become skilled at using this technique, you can repeat parts of it in a shorter format when you need a quick relaxation break. For example, when sitting in traffic, you can tense the muscles in your shoulders and upper back and then relax them to get a nice burst of relaxation.

Are you ready to learn the tense and relax technique? Let’s go!

UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey


SKILL: The Tense & Relax Technique Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs Goal: to tense and relax various muscle groups...
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