Applied relaxation training
Applied relaxation training brings together a number of proven stress management techniques. These techniques were developed by Swedish physician L.G.Ost. The script for these sessions is based on the chapter on applied relaxation training from "The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook" (Davis M et al, 2000). They can help in a variety of life situations from day to day frustrations to managing stress during exams.
Guidelines for practice
- Allow yourself sufficient time in a quiet space to practice.
- Don't rush yourself. Practice each stage regularly till you feel comfortable before moving to the next part. The whole program will require at least four to six weeks.
- Each new stage will help you relax more quickly and more deeply till you can relax at will in less then a minute.
The program guides you through four stages after which you will be able to apply these techniques during stressful situations. Each stage builds on the one before it while effectively reducing the time as you progress.
Part 1: Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation will help you recognise the difference between tension and relaxation in each of the major muscle groups. Being able to distinguish between tense and relaxed state is important. It helps you drain the tension from your muscles and identify trouble spots which you can pay more attention to in the future. You will also be able to bring your muscles to a deeper state of relaxation.
Give yourself one to two weeks time to practise. Your goal should be to relax your entire body in about twenty minutes.
- Download the audio file (mp3 audio 9.88 mb, 21.35 min)
Part 2: Release only relaxation
Release only relaxation cuts out the tensing step in progressive muscle relaxation. This means you can cut the time by half.
With practise you will find that with mental focus you can drain your muscles of their tension, with no need to tense them first.
Give yourself one to two weeks time to practice. Your goal should be to relax your entire body in less than ten minutes.
- Download the audio file (mp3 file 4.42 mb 9.37 min)
Part 3: Cue controlled relaxation
Cue controlled relaxation further reduces the time you need to relax. In this stage you will focus on your breathing and condition yourself to relax exactly when you tell yourself too.
You will build an association between a cue for example a command "relax" and true muscle relaxation.
Be sure that you are comfortable with release only relaxation before you start practising cure controlled relaxation.
Give yourself one to two weeks time to practise. Your goal should be to relax your entire body about seven minutes.
- Download the audio file (mp3 file, 6:56 mins 3.17mb)
Part 4: Rapid relaxation
Rapid relaxation can bring the time you need to relax to less than one minute. Being able to relax that quickly can bring real relief during stressful situations.
Give yourself one to two weeks time to practise. Your goal should be to relax your entire body in less than three minutes.
- Download the audio file (mp3 file, 1.26 MB, 2.45 min)
Part 5: Applied relaxation
The final stage of applied relaxation training involves relaxing quickly in the face of anxiety provoking situations. You will use the same techniques that you practised in rapid relaxation the moment you notice a stress reaction.
Be patient with yourself. Applied relaxation is a skill and as any other skill, you will improve you ability with learning and practice.
If you breath speeds up and muscles tense up, or if you feel your heart rate increasing. Begin your three steps:
1. Take two or three deep, even breaths
2. Think these calming words to yourself as you continue to breathe deeply:
Breathe in...... relax...
Breathe in...... relax...
You can make it simpler by hearing yourself think "relax" each time you exhale.
3. Scan your body for tension and concentrate on relaxing the muscles that you don’t need to continue your current activity.
You can start off by practising these instructions after you have run a flight of stairs.
As you feel more confident visualise a stressful situation in real life (a difficult assignment or a fight with your friend) and practise these three steps.
Finally practise these steps when you encounter a stressful situation in real life. No one but you needs to know what you are doing. You and those around you will benefit from the calmness that you approach the crisis at hand.