Psychological Self-Help

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To aid other purposes, such as concentrating and increasing
learning efficiency, overcoming insomnia and improving sleep,
and improving one's general health. 
STEP ONE: Select a relaxation method to try; decide how to give
yourself the instructions.
Consider these three ways of relaxing and pick one to try: 
Deep-muscle relaxation is easy to learn. It is a simple routine:
first tense the muscles, then relax them. This procedure is used
with many small muscle groups all over the body. Most of the
anxiety and tension you feel is in your muscles. So, by focusing
on relaxing your muscles, you can calm and comfort your entire
body (and mind) by excluding distressing thoughts (since you
are concentrating on groups of muscles). This method is based
on the simple principle that muscles relax after being tensed,
especially if suggestions to relax are also being given. So, mind
and body can be calmed by starting with the muscles. The
detailed steps are given below. 
There are a large number of commercial cassettes that provide
relaxation instructions. Usually it is better to make your own
tape. In this case you start with the mind and send relaxing
messages to the muscles. Detailed instructions are given below
but you need a cassette recorder readily available to use this
The Benson (1975) method is basically meditation (see method
#5) used as a relaxation procedure. The idea is to free the
mind from external stimulation, which slows physiological
functions and reduces muscle tension...and that reduces
impulses to the brain...and so on in a beneficial cycle. Like
meditation, the calming effects of all these methods last
beyond the time doing relaxation. 
STEP TWO: Learn how to do the relaxation method you have
Below are detailed instructions for the three relaxation methods: 
Deep-muscle relaxation involves focusing on a small group
of muscles at a time, e.g. "make a fist" or "make a muscle in
both arms." With each set of muscles you go through the same
three-step procedure: (a) tense the muscles. Notice each
muscle. Tighten the muscles until they strain but not hurt. The
muscles may tremble which is okay but be careful with your
feet and other muscles that tend to cramp. It does not need to
be rigorous exercise. Hold the muscles tense for 5 to 10
seconds. (b) Suddenly, say relax to your self and let the
muscles relax completely. (c) Focus your attention on the
marked change in the muscles from when they are tense to
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