Sweet, soft relaxation, and a sense of peace


Blog post:

The build-up and dissipation of chronic stress and tension

By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

12th May 2021



The fact that most people are totally unaware of just how tense their body is does not in any way protect them from the negative effects of ongoing stress, strain and physical and mental tension.

There is a solution to this situation, and I want to share it with you.

Automatic bodily tensing responses

Rexatation Book

Because of the way our bodies have evolved and developed, if you’re faced with challenging situations or feel under attack in a scary situation, your body has an effective strategy for dealing with it. We become physically highly alert, attentive, focussed and ready to deal with the new situation. We get rid of other things on our minds and focus on this specific problem, fully concentrating!

Then when we’ve dealt with the challenge, we relax – panic over! Our bodies go from ‘full alert’ to a more relaxed response. Our nervous system changes from “fight or flight” mode, to the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system. We chill out, relax and move on to the next situation.

This is how we’ve developed, and evolved as human beings, and it works well when we have the time and space to recover from daily challenges. We finish work, go home and get a decent night’s sleep so we can wake up the following day with our batteries fully recharged.

The importance of switching off the fight-or-flight response

But – and this is a big but – if we don’t get enough quality recovery time in-between challenging situations – if there are fewer and fewer recovery spaces in-between mental and physical challenges, what happens is that there is a slow, unrelenting  build-up of tension in our bodies.

And this tension can cause quite a few problems: people can start to have difficulty getting to sleep at night, lying awake for hours, experiencing insomnia. Digestion problems can happen, the heart can be affected, panic attacks can occur, anxiety levels can increase. The immune system becomes weakened, making people more susceptible to infections and viruses. People can start to dread situations that in the past they would have had no problem handling.

Unless we realise what is happening – our bodies, specifically our nervous system, is protesting against tension overload – then our physical and mental health can suffer, and our peace of mind will be affected. People can be full of tension when they are lying on the beach.

How to manage your tension, stress and strain

How can you handle this stress build up in your body? You could take the route of experimenting with a less tense, more relaxed way of life and specifically learn ‘scientific relaxation’. Dr Edmund Jacobson, based in Chicago, spent 70 years of his professional life researching how tension affects the body. He created a relaxation technique called “progressive muscle relaxation”, where you practise for 10 to 15 minutes a day, to slowly teach yourself what tension in your muscles feels like.

You slowly learn to feel and notice the different ways that you can be tensing up your muscles, without realising. Then you learn to relax your body quickly. As a result, you develop a feeling of physical and mental control over your body. And the benefits to your body are: improved sleep, reduced anxiety, improved digestion, and phobias disappear. Insomnia is eliminated, and also it’s a great stress reducer for public performance, exams, and it strengthens the immune system and reduces the experience of pain.

The need for alcohol, or other stimulants, which are a short cut to relaxation (but which have a sleep–destroying price tag as well as the financial cost) aren’t needed in the same way. Once you know how to relax, the need for artificial relaxants is greatly reduced.

There are some amazing case studies of clients using and benefitting from this technique, and I describe them in my book: Relax Your Way to a Better Life: Using Dr Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation technique for physical and mental health”).

Problems with orthodox medical solutions

Or you could try a different approach, and try orthodox medicine. But bear in mind that this has its drawbacks: In The Times newspaper of Monday, March 29th (page 19) there was an article with the headline: “Alarm over growing use of drugs to treat insomnia and anxiety”. Apparently patients are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to cure insomnia, and these prescriptions have doubled from 1.6 million, to 3.5 million in the ten years up to 2018. Side effects? “Weight gain, intense sleepiness, increased risk of diabetes and blurred vision”. And if the drug is stopped incorrectly, the article states, it can “Induce severe symptoms, including psychotic episodes”.

Alternative and complementary medicine solutions are best

Rexatation BookLearning the skill of proper relaxation, as in Dr Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation technique, benefits the body enormously, and will enhance the quality of your life for many years. And the side effects? A greater sense of connection with your body, an increased confidence in your ability to calm , soothe and relax yourself after stressful experiences, and if you have children, they will greatly benefit from your lack of tension and enhanced well-being, without realising it: If you’re relaxed – they’ll be relaxed!


What did you think of this presentation?  Have you tried out the relaxation system described? Any feedback would be very helpful for readers of this blog post.


Best wishes,


Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

Author of, Relax Your Way to a Better Life!


Relaxation and de-tensing for health and happiness


An occasional blog

6th October 2020


Tension can cause physical illnesses and emotional problems:

Relax your way to a better life!

By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Health and Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor


A, Progressive muscle relaxation book, 2I have been interested in relaxation systems since 1986, when I used Ainsley Mears’ Passive Progressive Relaxation system to cope of with the stress of preparing for a surgical operation for which I had been scheduled – (a hysterectomy).  I found his system helped enormously to calm me down, and also to cope with the post-surgical pain.

I subsequently used various systems of audio-based relaxation, by various hypnotherapists, some from the US, and some (like Dr Robert Sharp, Paul McKenna and Glenn Harrold) from the UK. I have found these systems to be very good ways to reduce my stress level (when combined with Chinese exercises, stress reducing diet, and adequate sleep) in my role as a college lecturer for over thirty years.

Then, about a year ago, I rediscovered Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), which I had encountered many years ago; and I began to experiment with this system.  The results were so helpful that I began to do a lot of research on the subject, reading a dozen books directly on the subject, and seventy sources of related information in total.

Health coach, Renata Taylor-ByrneI then felt obliged to write a book about the amazing range of benefits of this system of de-tensing the body: based on my reading and my personal, daily experimentation. I wanted other people to benefit from using this easy to learn, re-energizing technique.

For example, PMR brings relief to insomniacs. It helps them sleep better, when the insomnia is caused by muscular tension and intrusive thoughts.

It also takes pressure off our internal organs; reduces anxiety, stress, and fatigue; and provides relief from pain and illness for those who haven’t been, and can’t be, helped by conventional medicine (for example tension headaches which have not responded to prescribed medication: (Bernstein, Borkovec and Hazlett-Stevens, 2000)[1].

It helps with stomach and digestive problems, test and exam anxiety, and handling the pressures of public performance, including sports performance, and musical performance anxiety, and all forms of public speaking.

Dr Edmund Jacobson, PMR creatorThis book is brief, easy to read and concisely summarises the priceless insights of Dr Edmund Jacobson, who researched the amazing health benefits of relaxation for over seventy years, at the Universities of Harvard and Chicago, in the US, in the early part of the last century. In 1936 he set up his own institute to research scientific relaxation.

And in my researches I found several more recent books on this subject, by authors who want to keep this system alive; and lots of research articles, from the past few years, which verified the amazing benefits of this system.

My book is written in an easy to understand language. It summarizes the scientific research (with case studies and research experiments) which provide lots of evidence of the effectiveness of this system.

It teaches you how to develop this easily-acquired skill of relaxation which rids your body and mind of toxic tension.

The numerous benefits include the following:

– Lowered stress levels;

– Lowered blood pressure and heart rate;

– Decreased muscle tension;

– Reduced fatigue and anxiety;

– Improved quality of life and reduced blood pressure among people with heart disease;

– Reduced migraine headaches;

– Reduces some forms of chronic pain;

– Improved sleep, and insomnia relief;

– Help with smoking cessation;

– Improvement in cognitive (thinking) performance for people with dementia;

– Increasing or activating the production of opiates (or our innate pain killers);

– Promoting optimal immune function.

– Improving public performance skills for athletes, sportspeople, actors, teachers, students and media presenters;

– And increased mental and physical energy and the development of a feeling of well-being and autonomy.

A, Progressive muscle relaxation book, 2I am sure that if you experiment with this system, you will make enormous gains for a few minutes of practice each day. And to learn it is very, very cheap. Once learned, it will strengthen you for the rest of your life with a few minutes of daily practice.

It sounds invaluable, doesn’t it? I have written a page of information about this book. Please take a look at how to Relax Your Way to a Better Life!


That’s all for now.


Renata Taylor-Byrne

cropped-abc-bookstore-maximal-charles-2019-1.jpgLifestyle & Health Coach-Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

ABC Bookstore Online UK

The Institute for E-CENT (Research and publishing)



[1] Bernstein, D.A., Borkovec, T.D., and Hazlett-Stevens, H. (2000) New Directions in Progressive Relaxation Training. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.