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Progressive Relaxation is a means of recognizing tension in particular muscles or muscle groups and learning to consciously relax those muscles. There are four major muscle groups: 1) hands, forearms and biceps, 2) head, face, throat and shoulders, 3) chest, stomach and lower back, and 4) thighs, buttocks, calves and feet.

Breathing Exercises help a person relax by concentrating on each breath as you inhale and exhale. Full, deep breathing brings additional oxygen to all parts of the body, consequently the body can function better. Poorly oxygenated blood contributes to anxiety, depression, fatigue and irritability.

Meditation produces relaxation by focusing on one thing at a time. The amount of internal and external stimuli you respond to is greatly reduced. Meditation is a self discipline which increases effectiveness in setting and achieving goals, and improves self esteem. It also improves concentration and attention.

Imagination uses positive thinking - you are what you think you are. If you think sad or anxiety producing thought, you feel sad or anxious. You can refocus your mind on positive, healing images. A saying - "Every day in every way I am getting better and better." Effectiveness of imagination depends on your attitude. The desire to get better is not enough, you must believe you will get better.

Self Hypnosis is similar to sleep, however, there is never a complete loss of awareness. There is a narrowing of consciousness, accompanied by inertia and passivity. Hypnosis involves giving suggestions and using certain stimuli, such as visual fixation (pendulum, candle, fireplace or picture); concentration, repetition or relaxation. There are no reported cases of harm resulting from self hypnosis.

Autogenics is a systematic program to teach your body and mind to respond quickly and effectively to verbal commands to relax. What you do is relax, in a comfortable position, and concentrate on verbal suggestions of warmth and heaviness in your limbs. The exercises help reverse the body's fight or flight reaction to physical or emotional stress. Persons with serious diseases such as diabetes, hypoglycemia or heart conditions should be under a doctor's care while doing autogenics. (Some people experience changes in blood pressure.)

Thought Stopping involves concentration on unwanted thoughts and after a short time, suddenly stopping and emptying your mind. The command "stop" or a loud noise is generally used to interrupt the unwanted thoughts. Negative or frightening thoughts usually precede negative and frightening emotions. If your thought can be controlled, your level of stress can be significantly reduced.

Refuting Irrational Ideas is based upon the concept that what we think or "say to ourselves" affects our emotions. Basic to irrational thinking is the assumption that things are done to us. In reality, nothing is done to us. Events happen in the world. We experience these events, engage in "self talk" and then experience an emotion as a result of our self talk. If our self talk is irrational and unrealistic, we create unpleasant emotions. Because self talk occurs almost automatically, it is easy to think that emotions come spontaneously from events. If we analyze the situation and look at it rationally we can recognize causality and results.

Coping Skills Training teaches how to relax to reduce anxiety and stress. We have learned to feel nervous or anxious in certain situations. Coping skills training teaches, instead, to relax using progressive muscle relaxation so that whenever we experience stress, we can let go of the tension. Write down a list of your stressful situations --from least anxious to most anxious. Think about the situation, then relax away the stress you feel. Secondly, develop personal verbal remarks to counteract the stress ("stay calm...you've dealt with this before").

Assertiveness Training teaches you to stand up for your legitimate rights, without pushing others around or letting them push you around.

Time Management can be stated as three steps: 1) establish priorities that pinpoint your most important goals, and that allow you to base your decisions on what is important and what is not, 2) create time by realistic scheduling and elimination of low priority tasks, and 3) learn to make basic decisions.

Biofeedback is the use of instruments to become aware of processes in your body that you usually do not notice, and to help bring them under voluntary control. Biofeedback helps you find out which components of your nervous system are and are not relaxed. Biofeedback is often used in addition to other stress reduction methods.

Nutrition is important because when you are under stress your need for all nutrients increases, especially calcium, vitamin C and the B vitamins. Without the right balance of nutrients you may suffer from chronic, subclinical malnutrition and not know it.

Exercise is one of the most effective means of stress reduction. Vigorous physical exercise is a natural outlet for your body when it is in the fight or flight state. After exercising, your body returns to its normal equilibrium and you feel relaxed and refreshed.

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