Audio Relaxation

About Relaxation

The ability to relax is at the foundation of effectively managing stress and anxiety. When we perceive an event as stressful, our bodies react with what is called the "fight or flight response". Our heart rate and respiration rate increase, muscles become tense and blood pressure rises. The ability to relax results in a physiological state that is the exact opposite of the way our bodies react when under stress. In 1975, Benson described this state as the relaxation response. Research has identified many benefits of deep relaxation, including: reduction of generalized anxiety, prevention of cumulative stress, decrease in the frequency and intensity of panic attacks, increased energy, improved concentration, increase in self-confidence and reduction of insomnia (Bourne, 2005).

Getting Started

When listening to the recordings, choose an environment that is safe and quiet. The exercises can be done either sitting up or lying down. If using a chair, find one that allows you to sit comfortably with a more or less straight spine and support for your head.

Many people prefer to close their eyes during relaxation exercises. If you do not wish to close your eyes, you may wish to find a fixed point in the room to fix your gaze. Discontinue the exercise if you experience any physical or emotional discomfort.

Audio Files

We would like to thank the radio station CJSR 88.5 FM at the University of Alberta for providing recording facilities and sound editing.

Relaxation is a skill and will take time and practice to do effectively.

Listening to relaxation scripts should not be done in situations requiring alertness and responsiveness (e.g., while driving a car or operating heavy machinery). While relaxation techniques have many beneficial effects, they are not a substitute for appropriate medical attention. The relaxation scripts offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. When dealing with a physical and/or mental condition, always consult a qualified health care professional.


  • Benson, H. (1975). The relaxation response. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
  • Bourne, E. J. (2005). The anxiety and phobia workbook (4th ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  • Siegel, R. D. (2010). The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems. New York: The Guilford Press.