How to Reduce Stress at Work, at Home, and in Your Daily Life
Judith Pearson, Ph.D.
Instant Relaxation is a seven-day plan for acquiring the skills that can bring about a sense of well-being so that you can “fly into a calm” on a moment’s notice. This short, easy-to-read book is the result of Debra Lederer’s fascination with relaxation and meditation techniques. That fascination led to a quest that has taken her to 70 countries on six continents to study ancient and modern relaxation methods across cultures and religions. She concluded that many of the practices she observed were for “societies with time on their hands.” To bring relaxation to busier people, she formulated several highly effective, simple, fast and easy methods for “instant relaxation.” The book gives step-by-step procedures that combine Yoga, NLP, and positive thinking patterns to teach you how to stay calm almost anywhere.
There is no doubt that we live in a fast-paced culture where people are always hurrying to do more and more in less and less time. Stress, anxiety, and depression are now the leading mental health problems of western societies. Major illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, have been linked to stress. In response, we see an abundance of stress management advice in the media. Alternative medicine and holistic therapies offer an array of relaxation methods and therapies designed to restore equilibrium. Yet many people are still uninformed and unaware that they can control stress in any way. Many more search for the easy, quick fix—a pill, a drink, a cigarette, or a vacation, instead of learning to cultivate the daily habit of physical relaxation. Instant Relaxation provides a practical solution to the problem.
The seven-day training program in Instant Relaxation consists of exercises for breathing, posture, eye movement, affirmations, visualization, pattern interrupts, anchors, and language. Each day of the program requires only ten minutes (five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night) for learning another facet of relaxation. The program involves visual, auditory, and kinesthetic patterns that can help one feel relaxed and renewed. The book also helps readers recognize how they create stress by shallow breathing, poor posture, and negative thought patterns.
The goal of Instant Relaxation is to help you “feel calm, centered, energized, focused, and at ease anywhere and anytime.” The learning process is built around The Relaxed Core State. The Relaxed Core State is a primary state. You are not relaxed about anything; instead you experience relaxation in and of itself–a generic resource. The state develops as the program unfolds, training the mind-body to access the Relaxed Core State instantaneously and easily.
- Day one consists of breathing exercises for standing, sitting, and
- Day two emphasizes a comfortable, erect posture for sitting or standing.
- Day three incorporates eye movements and eye focusing. While fixating the gaze, for example, you mentally repeat “Relax now,” and “Slow down,” in a slow, gentle voice.
- Day four adds affirmations, thus promoting relaxing ideas and relaxing language. This chapter shows you how to become more conscious of self-talk. You can select from a menu of affirmations, all chosen to increase relaxation and reinforce the gains of the previous days. The authors invite you to value and commit to positive thinking as a key component of the Relaxed Core State.
- Day five calls for visualizations that accompany positive affirmations and positive concepts such as “My persistence will pay off,” and “I will improve every day.”
- Day six is a lesson in pattern interrupts; methods that stop the flow of negative, harmful thoughts and emotions. There are interrupts for poor posture, shallow breathing, negative thoughts, language, and feelings. The interrupts are easy ways to short-circuit stress, especially in difficult situations. Lederer and Hall suggest visual, auditory, and kinesthetic anchors that can serve as reminders to stay calm and relaxed.
- Day seven explains the language of relaxation. This lesson is a tutorial on cognitive therapy. You can learn to tune in to the words you use to describe events in your life, and replace negative, stress-producing words with positive words of hope and confidence. There is a difference between saying “I am never going to get this done,” and “Let me think how I can finish this.” Readers can notice the differences in emotions and
body sensations as they switch from negative to positive self-talk.
Lederer and Hall sum up the program in this way:
If what you do has the effect of inducing a more and more relaxed state, you are making a good choice. Continue to do that. And as you practice flying into a calm, do so with the growing satisfaction and awareness that, every time you do so, you are training your nervous system to become even more proficient and skilled in state management. Also, allow yourself to observe the process, noticing what makes it richer and fuller, more satisfying and empowering, purer, and more intense. (p. 78)
Increased self-awareness is a central theme of this book. Across the pages, the authors tell you to focus attention on breathing, posture, thoughts, and sensations—this focus, in itself, is not only instructive, but enhancing to the relaxation process as well. Lederer and Hall teach you to select anchors that will function as reminders to return to the Relaxed Core State frequently throughout the day.
The final chapter of the book is a guide to maintenance called The Relaxation Toolbox. This chapter reviews methods for anchoring and mental rehearsal, with instruction on how to apply the Relaxed Core State to difficult situations. There is also a daily relaxation program consisting of a morning relaxation routine (journaling, mental rehearsal, affirmations, and practice exercises), reminders to relax throughout the day, and an evening routine of journaling and review. The authors give advice on creating relaxing environments at home and work. At the back of the book, you can even join a free relaxation club and receive a monthly newsletter on additional avenues for stress reduction and mind-body integration.
Debra Lederer has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. She is a certified Yoga instructor and conducts stress reduction training for individuals and businesses across the United States. Her programs contain quick and effective techniques for reducing stress in all aspects of life, and she has built a successful consulting practice in New York.
Michael Hall is no stranger to NLP Practitioners. He holds master’s degrees in psychology, human resources, biblical languages, and literature, with a doctorate in cognitive behavioral psychology. He is a gifted NLP trainer and psychotherapist who has written many state-of-the-art works on communication, NLP, emotions, and motivation. Known for his integrity, genius, and compassion, Michael Hall is one of the brightest practitioners on the NLP scene today. He is dedicated to taking NLP into new realms in therapy and personal development. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Instant Relaxation is a book I will recommend to clients and friends, because anyone could benefit from it. Using relaxation to reduce stress is certainly nothing new, and the methods Lederer and Hall advocate are not revolutionary. In fact, the methods are tried, true, and familiar. Some of you are probably already doing some of them. What makes this book worthwhile is that the program is straight-forward and doable. The authors have done away with theory and psychological-sounding language. The seven-day program is “packaged” in a way that is easy to implement and understand. Studies of relaxation training and daily meditative and/or relaxation practice attest to the efficacy of programs such as the one Lederer has developed.
The surprising thing about the relaxation exercises is that they actually increase energy. Stress is draining, whereas relaxation is restorative. The Core State of Relaxation is not the deep relaxation of sleep or hypnotic trance; it is the calm, easy-going, contented feeling that so many of us desire and need throughout our bustling days. It is all too rare for some people. Many people know only how to “fly into a rage,” when stress overpowers them. Instant Relaxation teaches the neurological and linguistic skills and processes that help people to “fly into a calm,” instead. If more people were consistently calm and relaxed, perhaps the world would be a nicer place for all of us.
Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D., is a Certified NLP Trainer and a licensed psychotherapist
practicing in Northern Virginia.
To contact Judith:
Mailing Address: 6089 Guildhall Ct, Burke, VA 22015