Payne’s Handbook of Relaxation Techniques: A Practical Guide for the Health Care Professional, 4e
Relaxation is often seen as a panacea for stress. As such, it has given rise to many different approaches designed to cope with everyday stressors. When people are ill, however, stress and tension mount; sleep is affected and other body systems negatively infl uenced. Some people with a chronic pattern of stress-related behaviour can fi nd it very diffi cult to unlearn these behaviours and adopt a calmer lifestyle.
Many relaxation techniques are presented in this book. They have been selected with particular criteria in mind: that they should be easily learned and applied without requiring expensive equipment or specialized expertise. Their transferability is also important in that they can be adopted by small groups as well as individuals, and in a wide variety of settings across different age groups. Certain specialized techniques such as yoga are not covered in this book precisely because they require specific training or because, like biofeedback, they rely on special equipment.
An excellent introduction to the topic can be found in this book with its jargon-free style and its readability. Although addressed to health care professionals, it does not demand particular health care knowledge or specifi c previous training, and therefore has wide applicability. The book takes us through different aspects of relaxation, starting with a discussion on physiological and cognitive dimensions of stress and leading into a chapter containing coping techniques. In our society, where back pain is a major cause of absenteeism, the link between stress, muscle tension and perceptions of illness becomes particularly relevant.
The book then moves through a variety of somatic approaches including progressive muscle relaxation, breathing re-education, physical activity and passive relaxation. Cognitive approaches include imagery, visualizations, autogenics, meditation and some simple cognitive–behavioural techniques. A common format running through the chapters makes this book easy to dip in and out of and allows the easy comparison of one technique with another.
The final chapters relate to issues around measurement, a topic which is essential for any kind of audit. There is also a chapter indicating which conditions are likely to benefi t from particular techniques.
The book is essentially a practical manual with a step-by-step approach, allowing the reader to feel in touch with the practicality of each technique. If you are feeling stressed, then this is the book to pick up. Its pages will make you feel both more relaxed and more in control.
Ilora Finlay FRCP FRCGP
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Professor of
Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University; President
of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy,
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