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Relaxation & Stress Management Skills Training

12 Lesson Outline


This group program meets twice a week to maximize the opportunity to practice and develop strong skills in releasing body tension, and calming and focusing the mind. 

A unique feature of this program is the variety of brief techniques (6 seconds to 1 - 3 minutes) that are practiced in addition to the deep/long techniques (20 - 30 minutes) in order to facilitate their transfer into everyday life.  Skills training is emphasized in class and daily practice is very strongly recommended. Like playing the piano or riding a bicycle, invested practice produces effective skills that last a lifetime and can be used anywhere, anytime.



  • program introduction, history, past findings/research
  • stress concepts of  eustress / distress / thrive  in my life
  • eating patterns and stress
         *  impact of false friends  (caffeine & sugar)
  • the importance of deep/long techniques (20 - 30 minutes) for restoration,
    and brief techniques (6 seconds to 1-3 minutes) for integration into daily life
  • Quick Body Check


  • diaphragmatic breathing
    effortless, slow breathing from the diaphragm is the cornerstone of full relaxation
         *  how to breathe more low  +  slow  +  longer blow out
         *  hints for the wandering mind
         *  brief and deep practices
  • tips for decreasing jaw tension, and transferring them into everyday activities
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback  -  introduction
    turning on this sine wave pattern of heart beats  (the hallmark of the parasympathetic nervous system)  for 3 - 5 minutes or more at various times during the day is very helpful for cardiovascular health, decreasing symptoms of irritable bowel and anxiety, and enhancing performance at work, school, and sports


  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation   (Jacobson)
    a tense/release exercise to increase muscle awareness and the ability to more quickly and fully release muscle tension,
    found to be very helpful for decreasing headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, worry and anxiety
         *  introduction
         * 16 muscle groups
  • introduction to stress-inducing self-talk, and reframing


  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation  -  special areas
         *  waist and low back
         *  shoulders, neck & face  (the 3 musketeers)
         *  tips for releasing hard-to-relax muscles


  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation  -  4 muscle groups and other brief practices
  • Differential Muscle Relaxation   (Jacobson)
    releasing unnecessary tensions while doing activities  (different tension levels in different muscles for different tasks) 
         *  practicing muscle scanning & release while doing a variety of everyday activities
         *  scan vs. contrast
  • addressing the worst postures that escalate neck and shoulder tension (especially when on computers and devices)


  • Autogenic Training   (Shultz & Luthe)
    calmly repeating phrases like "comfortably heavy & warm",
    this technique has been extensively studied for its positive health benefits and uses in optimizing performance
  • the demanding self-talk of  should / must / got to
           ("When you're talking to yourself, watch your language!"   ~ Dennis Waitley)
  • trying too hard to relax  (or sleep)
  • insomnia  -  applying brief and deep techniques along with other sleep tips  


  • Autogenic Training  -  adding supportive phrases; brief versions for transfer into daily life
  • skin temperature biofeedback
    relaxation of the smooth muscles in the arteries and arterioles allows more warm blood to flow into fingers and toes, a sign of calming,
    and may be especially helpful for decreasing migraines, high blood pressure, and symptoms of Raynaud's Disease gastrointestinal stress
         *  introduction and trial experiments
         *  do you have cold hands all of the time?
  • further tips for calming the mind
  • headaches  -  applying brief & deep techniques along with other headache tips


  • Alphagenic Relaxation   (Zaffutto & Zaffutto)
    a combination of breathing, Autogenic phrases, and visualizing a marker that moves down a relaxation continuum toward the calm, tranquil alpha zone
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  -  applying brief & deep techniques along with other IBS and gastrointestinal relaxation tips


  • imagery / visualization
  • pain  -  applying brief & deep techniques along with other pain management tips


  • mental rehearsal
    a vividly imagined rehearsal of coping effectively, of taking a challenging situation in stride, calmly and competently
    that promotes active coping and management of stress, and stronger performance
  • Quieting Response   (Stroebel)
    a 6 second technique that incorporates body calming with mental rehearsal
    for an alert mind in a calm body, to be used in the midst of daily or stressful events
  • performance  -  applying brief and deep techniques to enhance performance in athletics, business, academics, and on the stage
  • watching for the scary "what ifs",  and tips for curbing worrying


  • Open Awareness  /  Open Focus   (Fehmi)
    practicing shifting the focus of attention from narrow to broad, and broad to narrow,
    which can increase concentration ability and generate profound relaxation of mind and body
  • anxiety & panic attacks  -  applying brief and deep techniques along with further tips to decrease anxiety & panic


  • Power Hour  (Wilson & Cummings)
    a 20 - 30 minute technique that combines of all of the other long relaxation techniques covered in this program,
    incorporating relaxation of many mind/body systems to promote deep relaxation and rejuvenation
  • brief version of Open Awareness and transferring it into everyday activities
  • drafting my personal action plan


This program is experiential, which makes it hard for you to get the full sense of its possibilities from simply reading a program description.  Perhaps it would help to know what past participants have said...  read more...

Some people choose to have a combination of private sessions and a group program.  For example, you may have 1, 2, or more private sessions to get started right away on training while waiting for the next group program to start. Some individuals benefit from private training after a group program in order to fine-tune skills and tailor them to specific situations.