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Chapter 9
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Chapter 9

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  1. Chapter 9 Relax: Using Relaxation Techniques to Offset the Effects of Stress

  2. Overview • This chapter • Introduces the third of the Five Rs of Coping with Stress—Relax • Explains the effects of relaxation on the body • Introduces a variety of techniques designed to put the body into a relaxed state

  3. Outline • The stressed state compared to the relaxed state • Breathing and relaxation • Meditation • Visualization

  4. Outline (continued) • Autogenics • The quieting reflex and the calming response • Biofeedback

  5. The Stressed State Compared to the Relaxed State • Relaxation is the opposite of stress • Heart rate slows down • Blood pressure decreases • Breathing rate decreases • Breathing becomes deeper, includes entire lung volume • Muscles relax • Mind is clearer, not threatened • The stressed state: A quick review

  6. The Relaxed State • The body’s response to relaxation when we simply cannot be stressed • Passive mental state: allowing your mind to slow down • Relaxed state: a state characterized by the decrease of key physiological processes, accompanied by a passive mental state

  7. Breathing and Relaxation • Breathing is the basis of both life and relaxation • Rapid, shallow breathing disrupts relaxation • Intentionally slowing and deepening one’s breathing can induce relaxation and cancel out the stress response

  8. Diaphragmatic Breathing to Reduce Stress • Most of us breathe too quickly • Breathing slowly means it should take several seconds to fill your lungs • Diaphragmatic breathing: a deep breathing technique that uses the diaphragm to assist in completely filling the lungs from the bottom up • Deep breathing is an excellent first choice for reducing stress

  9. Meditation • The process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness by refining them and putting them to greater practical use in our lives • Benefits of meditation: • Decreased metabolic rate and oxygen consumption • Increased intensity and frequency of alpha brain waves (associated with the restful awake state) • Slower heart and respiration rates • A calmer, more peaceful view of the world

  10. Meditation (Cont’d) • Focused meditation: A mental exercise using a focal point to direct one’s attention to • Open meditation: Non-focused or mindful meditation that directs one’s full attention to awareness of the present moment

  11. Meditation(Cont’d) • Four kinds of focused meditation practices: • Object meditation • Word/phrase meditation • Sound meditation • Breath meditation

  12. Applying Focused Meditation: Benson’s Relaxation Response • Four elements of Benson’s relaxation response (an easy, popular form of focused meditation): • A quiet environment • A mental device • A passive attitude • A comfortable position

  13. Meditation(Cont’d) • Two kinds of open meditation: • Formal mindfulness meditation: a type of mindfulness meditation training implemented over 8 weeks and designed to have people practice 45 minutes per day • Informal mindfulness meditation: the application of mindful behavior into daily experiences

  14. Visualization • Mental creation of relaxing visual images and scenes • Works by using images to facilitate a relaxation response • May be used alone or in conjunction with other techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, stretching, or meditation • Instructions for creating personal visualization scripts are given in the text

  15. Autogenics • A form of hypnosis that incorporates visual images of our bodies becoming warm and relaxed • Developed by Schultz and Luthe for use in the practice of psychotherapy • Instructions are given for five steps in performing autogenics

  16. The Quieting Reflex and the Calming Response • The quieting reflex: a 6-second relaxation technique developed by Stroebel • The calming response: a modification of the quieting reflex developed by Segal

  17. Biofeedback • Employs instruments that measure body functions associated with stress • The instruments help you recognize stress and relax your body • With experience you can wean yourself off the machine

  18. Biofeedback(Cont’d) • Four main types of biofeedback machines • EEG (electroencephalographic): measures brain waves • Thermal: measures temperature at the extremities • EMG (electromyographic): measures tension in striated muscles • EDR (electrodermal): measures the body’s electrical activity

  19. Hobbies, Entertainment, Recreational Activities, and Stress Relaxation: engaging in activities capable of inducing a truly relaxed state if done properly and practiced regularly Entertainment: engaging in activities that are enjoyable (usually) and provide a certain level of relief from the demands of the day but that fail to induce the same deeply relaxing state as relaxation activities

  20. Hobbies, Entertainment, Recreational Activities, and Stress (Cont’d) • Many confuse being entertained and engaging in non-physical hobbies and recreational activities with true relaxation • Hobbies, entertainment, and recreational pursuits sometimes can stimulate the brain and trigger behavior that is neither healthy nor conducive to mindfulness—in fact, sometimes just the opposite of mindfulness

  21. Using Hobbies, Entertainment, and Recreational Pursuits to Relax • Germet (2005) says that almost any activity can be pursued more mindfully if it is • Nonconceptual • Present-centered • Non-judgmental • Intentional • Participatory • Nonverbal • Exploratory • Liberating

  22. Chapter 9: Relax: Using Relaxation Techniques to Offset the Effects of Stress • Summary