It is commonly known that stress can be both a positive as well as a negative influence in our lives. When stress becomes overwhelming, many people have a repertoire of activities they do in an attempt to keep their stress levels manageable. Exercising, talking to friends or family, taking a nap, watching a favorite TV show, having a good laugh; the list is endless.
In recent years, more people have turned to mind/body exercises to help them combat stress. Have you ever thought about listening to a relaxation tape? Maybe this would be something new to you, and you’re not sure if it would help. Maybe you’ve tried this before but just didn’t have easy access to a recording. Enter…the Holy Cross Relaxation Downloads.
Below are two relaxation exercises that you can try.
The first is a basic breathing exercise that will only take you about 6 minutes. Breathing Exercise (1.96MB)
The tape begins with some simple instructions for you to follow. Even as you are listening to the instructions, continue to breathe in a slow and relaxed way. A minute of silence follows, giving you a brief time to put the instructions into practice. The exercise ends with a status check of how you are feeling.
Remember that anytime you try something new, you need practice before you develop a comfort level with the activity. This is true with relaxation exercises, as well. Practice when you can, knowing that your ability to relax will improve with time.
The second exercise is a progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and will take you a bit longer. You should make sure you have about 20 minutes to devote to it. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (6.01MB)
This exercise will instruct you to tense and relax the major muscle groups in your body so you can become practiced in creating for yourself true physical relaxation. PMR works on the principle that one cannot be stressed or anxious while completely physically relaxed. Using this exercise at any time will allow you to experience total relaxation. Taking the time to practice this exercise consistently and at least daily can be beneficial. In a matter of weeks you should be able to command your whole body to become stress free by eliciting the relaxation response by simple self-instruction.
Before you begin listening, you are encouraged to lie on your back with your hands at your side. You should be wearing non-restrictive clothing, and have your shoes off. Shut your eyes, but try hard to remain awake throughout. Though PMR is useful to combat the stresses and strains throughout your day, it can be used to help you fall asleep at night. Note that this exercise does require the lifting of your legs and the tensing of muscles, so if you have preexisting back problems, please consult with your physician before engaging in PMR.
You can listen to the exercises from this Web site or download to your own computer or iPod. (audio files are in MP3 format)
The breathing script is taken from chapter 11 of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, 5th edition, by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Eshelman and Matthew McKay.
The exercises were recorded by Fran Taylor, the Director of Wellness Programming and Matt Elliott, Senior Psychologist from the Counseling Center. Thanks to Jesse Anderson, Director of Audio-Visual Services for his technical expertise in creating this recording.