Relaxation exercises are easy to learn and implement, and can be remarkably effective in addressing stress, test anxiety, all kinds of phobias, and other similar concerns. Below are two exercises recorded by Dr. Steve Sprinkle, director of the Counseling Center at USD, and Dr. Bonnie Lambourn, a staff psychologist at Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Counseling Center.
The first exercise, called a “Progressive Relaxation Exercise,” is loosely based on one described in Chapter 4 of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (5th edition), a best-selling self-help book (see more about this book below). This exercise will direct you to systematically relax your major muscle groups by briefly flexing your muscles and then slowly releasing the tension. It begins by having you flex your facial muscles, and continues with your neck and shoulders, and on down to your arms, abdomen, and legs. The exercise ends by directing you to breathe deeply and slowly as you review parts of your body. The recording is about nine minutes long.
The second exercise, called a “Combination Relaxation Exercise,” blends several relaxation techniques, which used together can have a synergistic effect in creating a deep relaxation experience. It is loosely based on Chapter 11 of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (5th edition, see more below). In this exercise, you will progressively release tension from your major muscle groups, and then will be guided in using deep breathing, affirming statements, and the visualization of a “safe place” to achieve a relaxed state. The recording is about 15 minutes long.
You can listen to either exercise directly from this website, or you can download the exercises onto your computer. The recordings of these exercises are not copyrighted—they can be freely used or copied to a cd, computer hard drive, MP3 player, etc.
To listen to the exercises directly from this website, click the Play button at the right (Flash plugin required) or click the link to play the audio in you browser.
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (5th edition), by Martha Davis, Elizabeth R. Eshelman, and Matthew McKay is a popular self-help book that provides a wide variety of sensible, straightforward, and effective strategies for addressing everyday stress. The book was published in 2000 by New Harbinger Publications. The book is available from Internet booksellers and most large conventional bookstores. Follow this link to the publisher’s website.
Special thanks to Mike Black, manager of WEOS Public Radio in Geneva, New York, for his help in recording the relaxation exercises. Follow this link to learn more about WEOS.
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This Webpage is based on one first developed at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Counseling Center.
Used with permission of Dr. Steve Sprinkle, Director at the University of San Diego Counseling Center.