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How to Relieve Stress That Can Be Crippling (article below)

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WARNING: Do not listen to this program in your car, your car might go to sleep as well.


How to Relieve Stress that can be Crippling (free article) This is the second of three articles dealing with the basics of how to relieve stress. Part I has to do with the first defense against stress--breathing.  Here are just three actual case experiences demonstrating how crippling particular stressors can be. 

• As Joe's was driving back from California to NJ from vacation he learned that the IRS would be auditing him. By the time he reached NJ his hands were clenched on the steering wheel and his leg muscles were so tight that he walked like a cripple. 
• Jim got married to a very jealous woman who demanded a lot of attention and felt that he was a mama's boy. Jim felt torn between his mother and his new wife. Every time he called his mother or visa versa, he had to explain to his wife what the call was about. He began experiencing eye twitches shortly after he got married.
• Larry's father was a demeaning controlling man. He came home one day to find that Larry (a 17 yr. young man) hadn't gotten around to straightening the garage as promised. He called Larry a "stupid shit," and Larry's stuttering (which we had worked for two months to eliminate) returned immediately. It's interesting to note that the two months that we worked on his stuttering successfully, Larry was away at school and had very little contact with his dad. 
• Tom's wife left him after six years of marriage. There were many things he wanted to say to her in hopes of changing her mind, but she wouldn't listen to him and he developed a lazy tongue and experienced difficulties speaking. 

These examples demonstrate the power of stress over the body. In each case, response to a stressor led to excessive uncontrolled muscle tension. Stressors such as Joe's that can stand in the way of getting things done such as the IRS can create tension in the legs. Stressors that affect one's self worth such as with Larry and Tom, create lazy tongue and or contribute to stuttering. Stressors such as Jim's where he felt torn between his mother and wife create muscle twitching. It's normal that with some of these reactions, such as with Joe's crippling reaction, that doctors run tests for MS as the symptoms are very painful and serious. Barring any disease, the solution is to take back control of one's musculature. 
This is done: 
1. First by often dealing with self worth issues--learning how to build self worth in the midst of crisis 
2. Secondly to use the very same techniques for managing muscle tension that is also used for head, neck, and backache reduction. 
    a. Practice breath management techniques as covered in Part I of this series of articles.
    b. Selectively tense sequential groups of muscles daily keeping the rest of the body relaxed--takes approximately 20 minutes to do the entire body as in the Total Body Relaxation Cd at the top of this page. Once we get the general relaxation done, then we advance to particular muscle groups which are affected. 
    c. Reminder that each time that you tense/relax that you'd like to forget about it (it referring to the muscular reaction to stress) The amazing thing was that Joe could walk absolutely normally for twenty minutes after he listened to his first 20 minute tense/relax stress reliever exercise--something he hadn't been able to do for two years. 

The coping with stress exercise goes like this. 
a. Slowly tense a particular group of muscles keeping the rest of your body relaxed. 
b. Cause it to become tense and hold that tension for a few seconds. 
c. Slowly let the tension go as you breathe deeply. 
d. Remind yourself that you prefer the relaxed feeling over the tense feeling. A muscle sequence would go like this: 
• Make a fist with your right hand 
• Then a fist with your left hand 
• Push you right hand into the arm of the chair to tense you forearm and upper arm 
• Repeat for the left arm 
• Lift your shoulders high to tense them leaving your arms just hanging loose. 
• Push you head into the back of a chair to tense the neck. 
• Scrunch your facial muscles 
• Tense your forehead 
• Arch your back. 
• Take a Deep Breadth and hold it to tense your chest. 
• Push out with your abdomen 
• Tense your buttocks 
• Tense your right and then left leg. 
• Tense your right and then left foot. 

This is a general relaxation that should take approximately twenty minutes. For specific muscle groups the muscles groups are refined to include only the affected muscles. For instance a cd is available for handling the neck and shoulder -- another for just for stuttering which focuses on muscles of the mouth and tongue. Usually a combination approach of dealing with the life crisis plus muscle relaxation exercises over the course of two to three months is all that's required to gain a significant foot hold on the problem. And this is pretty good considering these problems often exits for years before starting this stress management technique.

Watch for part III of this article in which we'll be looking at vascular responses to stress. 


Total Body Relaxation. This is an active form of relaxation for deep muscular relaxation. It is the same training that I used in Biofeedback sessions with my clients for nearly 20 years to promote muscle awareness. With track #2 you develop abdominal breathing as a new habit.  Track 3 has you tense and relaxing various muscle groups for profound muscular relaxation. Track #4 focuses on differential relaxation. For instance, if you're about to putt a golf ball, there's no need for muscular tension in your face, or if you're driving a car, there's no need for muscle tension in your jaw or your arms unless you're using those muscles to perform a task. This excessive unneeded muscle tension in other muscles contributes to poor performance in sports, an overall feeling of anxiousness, and sometimes muscle pain. By mastering this exercise in differential relaxation where you learn to tense selected muscles and keep other specific muscles relaxed, you'll more often become aware of the excess tension during the day and release it. 

Track 5 incorporates all of the above skills to bring you the value of centering. Yes, with a single thought you can let go of all tension in your body. You can center yourself while at the computer, talking on the phone, giving a speech, driving down the street, eating dinner, or... Relaxation is yours for the doing.  The following article will provide you with overall approach to dealing with crippling muscle tension. 

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