Stress affects our minds and bodies in many ways, leading to reactions such as difficulty making decisions, restlessness, headaches, digestive problems, or perhaps a sense of being overwhelmed. Reactions to stress vary from person to person and have the potential to harm your health and your emotional well-being.
Stressful situations that we encounter each day (stuck in traffic, loud noises etc.) evoke our primitive fight or flight response. Our muscles tense, our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up. Because of the frequency of these events in our modern world, our body can develop a chronic condition of over tensing. We often are not aware of this chronic tension because it goes on outside of our awareness. We only become aware of it at the end of a long day when our neck and shoulders are sore.
We have recorded three frequently used Relaxation Techniques for your use. We recommend that you listen to all three ( each is about 20 minutes long) and then choose one which seems to work best for you. You may wish to download the audio file and make a cd for your continued use. Choose a time and a place where you will be undisturbed for 20 minutes and begin practicing your selected method on a daily basis.
- Autogenic Training which was recorded by Dr. Edward Franco is a system of psychosomatic self regulation. Research evidence demonstrates that conscious voluntary regulation is possible (heart rate, blood pressure) and that such self regulation has positive health benefits. On the autogenic relaxation tape you will hear a brief progressive relaxation technique followed by the introduction of the Autogenic phrases. The technique simply involves silently repeating the phrase over and over to yourself and trying to adopt a passive meditative perspective.
- Mindfulness Meditation recorded by Lori Hogg, MS, is the regular, disciplined practice of paying attention in the present moment. The technique comes primarily out of the Buddhist meditative tradition, which has been practiced for over 2000 years. Have you ever found yourself rushing through your “to do” list , multi-tasking, functioning on automatic pilot, distressed that there is never enough time? Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Director of the Stress-Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, refers to this modern, self imposed dilemma as the “tyranny of time”. He suggests that when your life is driven by doing, Mindfulness Meditation can provide a respite of non-doing, and restore balance and perspective.
- The 16 muscle group Progressive Relaxation Training Technique was recorded by Dr. Kenneth France. Based on Jacobson’s Progressive Relaxation Training, the goal of this approach is to become more aware of small amounts of tension that most of us carry with us in our muscles, and subsequently learn to let go of unneeded tension.
By practicing Progressive relaxation we learn to more quickly identify muscle tension and to let it go or reduce it . The long range goal of progressive relaxation is for the body to monitor these tension spots and reduce the unneeded tension immediately.