Applied relaxation is a series of relaxation techniques. It can take as little as two weeks to master for mild anxieties, and up to eight weeks to master for panic attacks or phobias. It is important to completely master each step in sequence before moving to the next step. If you try to rush the process it will be ineffective.
2. Release Only Relaxation- do progressive relaxation without the “tensing” phase. This will cut the time for progressive relaxation in half.
3. Cue Controlled Relaxation- condition yourself to relax upon a cue such as the word “relax”. Quicken the "release only" technique to 30 seconds- relaxing your whole body from toe to head in 30 seconds and releasing all tension. Use your cue word with a basic breathing exercise. Breathe deeply saying to yourself “breathe in” on the inhale and “relax” (or your other cue word) on the exhale. Breathe for 2 minutes. Focus all your attention on the words. Feel muscles relax each time you use your cue word.
4. Rapid Relaxation- Find a visual or auditory cue from your every day experiences. Every time you see this cue- breathe and relax. Scan your body for tension and release. Practice in non stressful situations 15 X/day until mastered.
5. Applied Relaxation- As soon as you note a sign of stress or anxiety in your body, take two deep breaths, then continue to breathe and relax. Imagine your cue & use your cue word.
a. Desensitize by
doing this after you exercise so you can learn it when you have elevated heart & breathing rates and other symptoms.
Then visualize stressful situations and practice. Make a hierarchy of stressful situations and practice relaxing in order of easiest to most stressful. Do this until mastered before engaging in real life scenarios.
Then practice during real situations- least stressful progressing to most difficult.
b. Note that you will rarely succeed the first couple of attempts in a real situation. Observe the improvements that you do make. Most people can stop anxiety from increasing with little practice. After that it usually doesn't take long to decrease the anxiety and replace panic with calm.
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