Applied Relaxation of Öst

A technique to achieve the state of relaxation in a variety of situations.

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The applied relaxation of Öst is considered, according to the guidelines of effectiveness of treatments, a treatment probably effective to treat the panic disorder. In addition, this treatment is also used for other anxiety disorders, such as dental phobia.

It is one of the most used techniques in the treatment of stress. In this article we will know its characteristics, phases and components.

Background: previous relaxation techniques

The applied relaxation of Öst consists of a variation of the Berstein and Borkovec adaptation of Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation training (RMP).

1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Jacobson’s RMP consists of a very complete relaxation technique that allows the patient to discriminate perceptively between the sensations of tension and distension, as well as to diminish his afferents.

2. Relaxation technique of Berstein and Borkovec

For its part, the Berstein and Borkovec adaptation consists of a variation of Jacobson’s RMP; it is a differential relaxation, in which the muscles related to an activity are kept active, and the rest relaxes.

The adaptation of Berstein and Borkovec consists in training the patient according to three types of variables: position (sitting / standing), activity (active / inactive) and place (quiet / not calm).

Applied relaxation of Öst: characteristics

In the applied relaxation of Öst, all the muscles will tense and relax at the same time. Then the process will be repeated at least once, tensing each muscle group for five to seven seconds and then relaxing it between twenty or thirty seconds. The patient will focus on the sensations of tension and relaxation, respectively.

Throughout the process of applied relaxation of Öst, the patient is taught to identify the signs of anxiety and to initiate relaxation techniques.

To start this technique the environmental conditions should be favorable, these being: a quiet environment, remain comfortably seated with closed eyes, without excessive external noise and without the interference of stimuli that disturb a good concentration.


The components or techniques of the treatment are two: relaxation and practice; hence its name: “relaxation” (RMP) + “applied” (live practice):

1. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

This technique was originally designed by Jacobson, already commented.

2. Live practice

The applied relaxation of Öst includes the live practice of anxiety situations presented in a hierarchical way to the patient.

The applied relaxation of Öst consists of four phases that progressively decrease in terms of the time devoted to the relaxation process. They are the following.

1. First phase: progressive relaxation

The first phase of relaxation includes learning to relax muscle groups separately. It begins with a previous tension, since the tension facilitates the later relaxation. Tense and relax the different muscle areas, while we must identify the sensations associated with both exercises.

The duration of each of the tensions will be approximately 3-4 seconds, and a pressure of 70% will be exerted to avoid the risk of muscular contractures.

The relaxation periods should be increased until reaching 20-30 seconds. At the end of the process of tensions and relaxations (which begins with the hands and continues through the head to the feet), three diaphragmatic breaths are performed to relax the whole body a little more.

2. Second phase: relaxation without tension

In this second phase you will learn to relax by omitting the tensions, trying to feel the relaxation without needing to tense.

3. Third phase: differentiated relaxation

After about 15 days (at least) practicing muscle relaxation, the objective will be to be able to obtain relaxation only by concentrating on the diaphragmatic breathing and the general sensation of relaxation.

The main objective will be to reach complete relaxation with closed eyes. The three breaths will be performed and the body will relax completely. Once we achieve this, we will open our eyes and try to maintain the state of relaxation.

The ultimate goal will be to be able to selectively relax those muscle groups that are not involved in the movements we perform.

4. Fourth phase: relaxation by signals

In this fourth and last phase of the applied relaxation of Öst, the patient should be able to relax quickly and in any circumstance, without needing a great concentration.