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Excerpted from The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. Copyright © 2000 by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Try to use your relaxation cue fifteen to twenty times a day to relax quickly in natural, nonstressful situations."

  Martha Davis, Elizabeth R. Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Part 4

F. Now listen to the words again as you continue to breathe in . . . and relax.

Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .

G. Continue to breathe, saying these words in your head, for a few minutes now. Feel each breath bring peace and calm in and float worry and tension out. (Stop recording the tape here.)

H. If you have time, repeat the entire process of cue-controlled relaxation after a recovery period of between ten and fifteen minutes.

Practice cue-controlled relaxation twice a day, as you did with the earlier stages. After each session, you may want to make a note of the amount of time you needed to relax and how deeply relaxed you became. Most people find that the actual time required to relax at this stage is shorter than they imagine. Aim to relax completely using cue-controlled relaxation within two to three minutes before moving on to rapid relaxation.

4. Rapid Relaxation

Rapid relaxation can bring the time you need to relax down to thirty seconds. Being able to relax that quickly can mean real relief during stressful situations. Itís a good idea to practice rapid relaxation many times a day as you move through different activities and states of mind.

In rapid relaxation, you will pick a special relaxation cue. Choose something that you see regularly throughout the day, such as your watch or a certain clock or the picture you pass as you walk down the hall to the bathroom. If you can, mark that special cue with a piece of colored tape while youíre practicing this technique.

When youíre ready to begin, look at your special cue. Breathe in and relax. Breathe in and relax. Continue to look at your cue and think "relax." Breathe in and relax. You are breathing deeply and evenly, and you continue to think "relax" each time you exhale. Let the relaxation spread throughout your body. Scan your body for tension and relax as much as possible in every muscle that is not needed for whatever activity you are currently doing.

Every time you look at your cue throughout the day, go through these simple steps:

1. Take two or three deep, even breaths, exhaling slowly through your mouth.

2. Think "relax" each time you exhale, as you continue to breathe deeply.

3. Scan your body for any tension. Focus on muscles that need to relax and empty them of tension.

Try to use your relaxation cue fifteen to twenty times a day to relax quickly in natural, nonstressful situations. This will instill the habit of checking yourself for tension and moving back to a state of deep relaxation throughout the day. After your first few days of practice, you may want to change the color of the tape on your relaxation cue -- or even change the cue altogether. This will keep the idea of relaxation fresh in your mind. Finally, see if you can use rapid relaxation to calm yourself during one or two particularly stressful moments of the day. (The next stage, applied relaxation, will help you refine this ability, but itís a good idea to open yourself up early to the idea of relaxation during crisis.)

When you feel comfortable with rapid relaxation and are able to achieve a state of deep relaxation in twenty to thirty seconds many times during the day, you are ready to move on to the final stage of applied relaxation training.

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