Managing Stress through Relaxation

Managing Stress Through Relaxation

What is the result of Stress Management?

  1. Calms the physiological arousal which triggers the amygdala and thus anger escalation.
  2. Desensitizes Individuals to anger arousing effects of particular situations.


Learning stress management and relaxation skills are some of the best empirically based calming and coping strategies.

Relaxation: It has been proven that relaxation techniques are beneficial for reducing stress in your life, and thus decreasing the resulting feelings of anger and frustration. With so many things to do, it’s easy to put off taking time to relax each day. But in doing so, you miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
Relaxation can improve how your body responds to stress by:
• Slowing your heart rate, meaning less work for your heart
• Reducing blood pressure
• Slowing your breathing rate
• Reducing the need for oxygen
• Increasing blood flow to the major muscles
• Lessening muscle tension

After practicing relaxation skills, you may experience these benefits:

  • Fewer symptoms of illness, such as headaches, nausea, diarrhea and pain
  • Fewer negative emotional responses such as anger, crying, anxiety, apprehension and frustration
  • More energy
  • Improved concentration
  • Greater ability to handle problems
  • More efficiency in daily activities
  • Relaxed breathing

Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you’re stressed? Stress typically causes rapid, shallow breathing. This kind of breathing sustains other aspects of the stress response, such as rapid heart rate and perspiration. If you can get control of your breathing, the spiraling effects of acute stress will automatically become less intense. Relaxed breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, can help you.

Practice this basic technique twice a day, every day, and whenever you feel tense. Follow these steps:

Inhale. With your mouth closed and your shoulders relaxed, inhale as slowly and deeply as you can to the count of six. As you do that, push your stomach out. Allow the air to fill your diaphragm.

Hold. Keep the air in your lungs as you slowly count to four.

Exhale. Release the air through your mouth as you slowly count to six.

Repeat. Complete the inhale-hold-exhale cycle three to five times.

Recommended Relaxation Technique: Experts say it’s best to practice relaxation for at least twenty minutes per day. At first, practicing the following relaxation technique may seem awkward. In time, and with practice, you’ll feel more comfortable with the practice and the results. Learning to relax can help prevent the escalation of anger.

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably with your back straight or lying comfortably with your arms along your sides. Close your eyes and begin focusing on your body. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. When thoughts and images arise in your mind, acknowledge them, and then let them go away as you bring your focus back to your breathing. Fully experience each exhale. Practice this for about five minutes or so.

Shift your focus to your body. Start with your feet. Tighten the muscles in your feet and toes, hold them tense for a couple seconds, then release the tension and let your feet relax. Next, focus on your calves. Tighten the muscles in your calves, hold them tense for a couple seconds, then release the tension and let your calves relax. Repeat this through all of your major muscle groups as you move your attention up your body. Tense your thighs, hold, and then relax. Move to your chest, hands, arms, shoulders, and finally your face.

After you have relaxed all of your muscle groups, mentally check over your body from head to toe and feel for any muscles that are still tense. If you notice a part of you that is not totally relaxed, tense it up a little, hold, and then relax. Sit, or lay, in silence with your eyes closed for twenty minutes or for as long as is comfortable.

Many people incorporate prayer or meditation during their time of relaxation.

Video on relaxation demonstration ► 9:59
Learn to relax your body with this relaxation script

Foundational insights:

Making personal choices to live a healthy life-style can decrease the stress which precipitates anger. Learning relaxation techniques can slow down your physiological “fight-flight” response to anger.

Combine the relaxation skills with challenging thinking which is causing stress and anger. Write out anger triggering scenarios beforehand which you can think about during the relaxed state. Read and take the Stress inventory in book. Read the chapter on stress management.

© copyright 2017 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V