Relaxation.pdf. YOU REALLY NEED TO RELAX: Effective Methods. The relaxation response is perhaps one of the most important skills you will.
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UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey Retrieved8/5/2010fromhttp://www.med.umich.edu/painresearch/patients/Relaxation.pdf YOU REALLY NEED TO RELAX: Effective Methods 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 ha ving broad health be nefits 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. Relaxation Techniques Pain Muscle Tension Fatigue Sleep Disorders Stress Hi Blood Pressure Low Energy Drowsiness Anxiety Irritability What is the Relaxation Response? The relaxation response is defined as yo ur personal ability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that ma ke your muscles and organs slow down and increases blood flow to the brain. Dr ugs can do some of this for you, however they often have unwanted side effects. Yo u can get your body to relax just as well 1Retrieved 8/5/2010 from http://www.med.umich.edu/painresearch/patients/ Relaxation.pdf

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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 th at 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 : Visual Imagery Deep Breathing Meditation Hypnosis Yoga Biofeedback Progressive Muscle Relaxation (tense & relax) 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 wi llingness 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 tensio n. Some people have a great amount of tension at rest, others less. When peop le are under acute stress, their muscles tend to have higher levels of resting te nsion that can be painful and fatiguing. After you tense and relax muscles, the tension level not only returns to the original 2

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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 Œ 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! 3

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SKILL: The Tense & Relax Technique Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs Goal: to tense and relax various muscle groups of the body to produce relaxation Step 1: Begin deep breathing. Step 2: Tense the muscle groups (as desc ribed below) and then relax them. The Tense & Relax Exercise: Preparation 1) Make yourself as comfortable as possible in a seated position 2) Try and sit up straight with good posture with your hands resting in your lap 3) Remove your glasses if you wear them, some people prefer to remove their contact lenses Tensing and Relaxing Specific Muscle Groups 1. Relaxation of the feet and calves: Flex your feet (pull toes toward the knees) Contract calf muscles and muscles of lower leg Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 2. Relaxation of the knees and upper thighs: Straighten your knees and squeeze your legs together Contract your thigh muscles and all the muscles of your legs Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 3. Relaxation of the hips and buttocks Tense the buttock muscles by squeezing them inward and upward Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 4

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4. Relaxation of the abdomen Observe your abdomen rising and falling with each breath Inhale and press your navel toward the spine then tense the abdomen Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 5. Relaxation of the upper back Draw the shoulder blades together to the midline of the body Contract the muscles across the upper back Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go6. Relaxation of the Arms and Palms of the Hands Turn palms face down and ma ke a tight fist in each hand Raise and stretch both arms with fists Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 7. Relaxation of the Chin, Neck, and Shoulders Drop your chin to your chest Draw your shoulders up toward your ears Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 8. Relaxation of the Jaw and Facial muscles Clench your teeth together Tense the muscles in the back of your jaw Turn the corners of your mouth into a tight smile Wrinkle the bridge of your nose and squeeze your eyes shut Tense all facial muscles in toward the center of your face Feel the tension build and hold the tension Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 9. Relaxation of the Forehead Raise eyebrows up and tense the muscles across the forehead and scalp Feel the tension build and hold the tension 5

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Take a deep breath As you exhale say the word fiRELAXfl and let the tension go 10. Intensification of Relaxation throughout the Body Focus on relaxation flowing from the crown of your head Over your face Down the back of your neck and shoulders Down your body through your arms and hands Over your chest and abdomen Flowing through your hips and buttocks Into your thighs, your knees and calves And finally into your ankles and feet Continue to deep breath for several minutes in silence 11. Finishing the Tense & Relax Exercise Count backwards in your head from 3 to 1 a) 3 Πbecome aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises) b) 2 РMove your feet, legs, hands, arms, rotate your head c) 1 Πopen your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed That was nice. What else can I try? 6

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Taste: the fresh water from a creek, a ripe berry, a sweet apple Start off with 5 minutes then gradually expand your imagery time to about 15- 20 minutes per day. This Technique : Takes a lot of concentration and a lot of practice in order to fully master concentrating on your image and not being distracted by internal bodily discomfort or external noises. After you have become skilled at using this technique, you can repeat parts of it in a shorter format (i.e., a few seconds or a few minutes) when you need a quick relaxation break. Now let™s focus on the step s to relaxation through visualization–.. 8

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SKILL: Visual Imagery Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs Goal: to use visualization and all your senses to produce relaxation Your imagery experience will have 4 parts: Entering the image, the journey to a private place in the image, experiencing the private place, and finally returning and ending the imagery. Step 1: Enter Your Image . •As you enter your image notice the view. •What is in the distance? •What do you hear? •Are there any immediate smells or tastes? • Reach out and touch the things in your immediate environment. •How do these things feel? •What is under your feet? How does this feel? •Are there any new smells or sounds? •What is the temperature? Make it comfortable. •Look above you. What do you see? •What do you hear now? •Identify a path along which you will travel as you journey through this place. Step 2: The Journey . •As you begin your journey take several additional deep breaths. •Your journey should take you deeper and deeper into your image. •As you travel, be keenly aware of the sights passing by you. •As you travel, be aware of new sounds that occur. •As you travel, be aware of the temperature, and feelings under your feet. •As you travel, be aware of the things you can touch and examine their texture. 9

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•As you travel, be aware of smells and tastes that enter your image. •Continue on your journey until you find a place of rich sensory experiences. This is your private place. Step 3: The Private Place •Once you reach your private place take several additional deep breaths. •Your private place should make you feel calm, peaceful, and filled with sensory pleasure. •In your private place, be keenly aware of the sights around you. •In your private place, be aware of new sounds that occur. •In your private place, be aware of the temperature, and feelings under your feet. •In your private place, be aware of the things you can touch and examine their texture. •In your private place, be aware of smells and tastes that enter your image. •Stay in your private place for several minutes allowing your imagination to run free with pleasurable images. Step 4: The Return Home •Before you start to return home, do the following: Notice how your body feels You will want to return to this feeling in the future •Try and recall the best aspects of your journey and of your private place. You will want to return to these in the future. •Prepare to leave by counting backwards from 3 to 1. 3 Œ Become aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises) 2 – Move your feet, legs, hands, rotate your head 1 Œ Open your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed 10

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SKILL: Tense & Relax and Visual Imagery (Sample) Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs Goal: to use the tense & relax techni que and visualization to produce relaxation Step 1: Try the Tense & Relax Technique Schedule 20 minutes (for 3 days this week) to go through all of the major muscle groups. Note your tension level before and then after doing the exercise. Step 2: Try the Visual Imagery Technique Schedule 20 minutes (3 days this week) to try the visual imagery technique using the instructions in this chapter. Note your tension level before and then after doing the exercise. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 No Tension Highest Tension GOAL: Rate Day Day Day Day Day Day Day Before & After 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Tension levels for Tension level before____ 8 10 5 Tense & Relax (3 days) Tension level after____ 5 6 3 Tension level before____ 7 6 8 Visual Imagery (3 days) Tension level after_____ 4 4 7 11

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