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RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – Introduction, Relaxation with Guided Imagery and Steps of Relaxation Technique


Synder and Egan (1993) identified relaxation techniques as the major method used to relieve stress, included in nursing interventions. Commonly used techniques cited were progressive muscle relaxation, relaxation with guided imagery and Senson’s relaxation response. The goal of relaxation training is to produce response that counter the stress response.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing the muscles of the body in sequence and sensing the difference in feeling. It is best if the person lies on a soft cushion on the floor, in a quiet room, breathing easily. Self-taught or instructor-directed exercise can involve learning to contract and relax muscles in a systematic way beginning with face and ending with feet. This exercise may be combined with breathing exercises that focus on inner self


It is the powerful use of imagination to achieve relaxation and/or direct attention away from the undesirable sensations

The nurse helps the person to select a pleasant scene or experience from his or her past. This image serves as the mental device in this technique. As the person sits comfortably and quietly the nurse guides him to review the scene; trying to feel and relieve the imagery with all of the senses. A tape recording can be made for description of science of experience for the pleasant son’s relaxation response. Benson (1984) described the following steps for this response:


  • Step 1: pick a brief phrase or word that reflects your basic belief systems
  • Step 2: choose a comfortable position
  • Step 3: close your eyes
  • Step 4: relax your muscle
  • Step 5: become aware of your breathing and start using your selected focus word
  • Step 6: maintain a passive attitude
  • Step 7: continue for a set period of time
  • Step 8: practice the technique twice a day

The response combines meditation with relaxation. The other techniques of stress management will also include the following:

  • Thought stopping: it is a self-directed behavioral approach used to gain control of self-defeating thoughts. When these thoughts occur the individual stops the thought process and focuses on conscious relaxation
  • Exercise: regular exercise, especially, aerobic movement, results in improved circulation, increased release of endorphins on an enhanced sense of well-being
  • Humor: in the forms of laughter, cartoons, funny movies, riddles, audiocassettes, comic books and joke books, humor can be used for both the nurse and patient
  • Assertive behavior: open, honest, sharing feelings, desires and opinions in a controlled way. The individual who has control over one’s own life is less subject to stress
  • Social support: this may take the form of organized support and self-help groups, relationship with family and friends and professional help

In addition, meditation, breathing techniques, therapeutic touch, music therapy and biofeedback can be used as stress management technique

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – Introduction, Relaxation with Guided Imagery and Steps of Relaxation Technique
RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – Introduction, Relaxation with Guided Imagery and Steps of Relaxation Technique
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