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Natural Stress Relief and Autogenics

Autogenics is a system of stress relaxation exercises developed in the late 1920s and 1930s by a German psychiatrist and neurologist, Dr. Johannes Schultz. He used hypnotherapy on many of his patients and became aware of the great benefits they gained from the deep state of stress relaxation brought about under hypnosis. This led him to try to devise a set of stress relief relaxation exercises to enable people to induce a state of relaxation themselves. Over here, the word autogenic means self-originated, or coming from within.

The aim of these stress relief relaxation exercises is to help switch off the part of the nervous system that produces the “fight or flight’ response to natural stress relief, and to help us switch on the relaxation mechanisms from our body. There are essentially six exercises, each focusing on a different sensation, and they may be carried out either lying down or sitting in one of two different ways. No special equipment is required, just the time and space to allow for natural stress relief. The simplicity and effectiveness of autogenics have led to it spreading throughout Europe and America, Japan and even to many countries in the world.

What follows is a very basic autogenics exercise which can be used as a simple and natural stress relief technique:

  • Focus your attention on feelings of heaviness and relaxation in the neck, shoulders and limbs.
  • Develop an awareness of a growing sensation of warmth in the limbs.
  • Concentrate on the heartbeat, and help to regulate it.
  • Build an awareness of your breathing patterns.
  • Create a feeling of warmth in your abdomen.
  • Create a sensation of coolness across the forehead.
Autogenics training is normally carried out by a health practitioner with a group of people, with the natural stress relief and management exercises being learned over several weeks. A feature of the training process can be a so called autogenics discharges, temporary sensations or emotions that can be quite intense and are often followed by a feeling of greater energy. However, these do not happen to everyone, but are one reason for training with a qualified practitioner, who can explain what they mean.
In a training session these stress relief sensations and relaxation are enhanced and strengthened by the silent repetition of certain phrases, which, when carried out on a regular basis, can have remarkable effects in relieving stress and fatigue symptoms. The release of long standing stresses can be the reason for the autogenic discharge phenomena.

In a group training situation, an autogenic trainer will probably focus on the first of the above exercises for a natural stress management and stress reduction, i.e. inducing heaviness and relaxation, for a few weeks so that everyone is confident at performing the exercise. Most autogenics trainers encourage their group members to keep detailed diaries of home practice, and the weekly sessions may begin with a discussion of how everyone has got on in the previous week. This also allows for any individual adjustments that may need to be made to a member’s programme.

Initially, repetition of these stress relief relaxation exercises at home should be just for a couple of minutes, perhaps repeated twice a day; during the course of the stress relief session, the trainer may suggest us to increase the length of home exercises to around 15 minutes, two to three times a day. It is important to fit our exercises into our daily routine so that they become part of our life.
So far, more than 3,000 scientific articles have been published describing the beneficial effects of autogenics as a natural way for relieving stress, although no one can say for certain how the therapy works. Stress related disorders such as stomach ulcers, migraine, asthma and so on can be improved by these simple stress relaxation exercises and techniques. Autogenics are a good example of how mental, emotional and physical healths are inextricably intertwined. Repressed emotions or stresses may be responsible for later physical disorders, and this training can help us to break the pattern and release the trapped feelings.

The above natural stress management exercises can be practiced in various places and situations, such as at work, on the train or sitting in a park in our lunch hour. It needs no special clothing or adoption of difficult and awkward positions, and is sometimes compared to learning to drive. This is just like, firstly, make ourselves comfortable behind the wheel; start off calmly and slowly without any jerks or jolts; next change gear or alter our physical and mental states, and finally come to a smooth, safe halt. The above natural stress relief exercises are designed to relieve stress and help our body cure itself.
For further exploration into autogenics we should consult a practitioner who are able to give us a brief check-up to make sure the stress relief training is suitable for us. It is good to know that some patients will only be treated under appropriate medical supervision and modified treatment is given to asthmatics, diabetics, pregnant women and epileptics. Therapists claim that autogenics stress relief exercises can help us with a variety of ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, depression and eczema.

In fact, many practitioners of autogenics are professionals already involved in healthcare, such as doctors, psychotherapists and psychologists. This probably reflects the depth of research into this autogenics stress management training, and has meant that apart from private autogenics practitioners, autogenics may be available through hospitals or general physicians for the benefit of naturally relieving stress and for disseminating this remarkable natural stress management technique for a better mind body spirit and soul.


James Thomas said...

Excellent post!

Check out my video blog for weekly updates on stress management, relationship and communication issues...

-James Thomas

Stress Management Coach

Kell said...

Great post. The relaxation response counters the effects of stress on the body. I write about how to achieve the relaxation response at
All the best

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