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Progressive relaxation: a proven way to decrease the adverse effects of stress on our health

We all experience stress at times during our lives.  Perhaps it is dealing with a difficult boss, a serious illness, problems with children or parents, financial difficulties, an important exam, or any other challenge that life throws our way.  Progressive Relaxation is a way to learn how to relax and thus to minimize the negative effects that stress has on our overall health and well-being.  It is a skill that can be learned just as any other skill, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle.  

Progressive relaxation enables people to take control of their reactions to stress and has been found to be successful for treating many problems related to stress.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Chronic neck or back pain
  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar in diabetes

Dr. Richard Surwit has been a pioneer in the study of how psychological factors such as stress and depression influence one’s health. Progressive relaxation is the heart of Dr. Surwit’s stress management program.  This program, presented in The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution, has been used effectively at Duke University Medical Center for over 25 years to treat patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, as well as other stress related-related conditions.  His research in the field of diabetes has demonstrated that stress can be an important factor in glucose control and that progressive relaxation can lead to clinically significant improvements in diabetes control.

Until recently, Dr. Surwit’s program has only been available to patients at Duke and to health care professionals. Now, an updated version called Progressive Relaxation: A Self-Training Program, is available directly to the consumer. It includes a CD as well as a complete instruction manual that teaches you how to use the program in a step-by-step fashion.  Now you can learn Dr. Surwit’s techniques in the comfort of your own home.  When practiced regularly, progressive relaxation will reduce the effects of stress on the body and therefore can help you relieve some of the symptoms of stress-related diseases.  Once you have learned the skill of Progressive Relaxation you will be able to use mini-practices wherever you are to relax and calm yourself whenever you encounter a stressful situation.

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