About Relaxation


What Is Relaxation?

Relaxation can be described as a calming effect on your body and mind, where tension in your body is released. Your breath slows down and your nervous system is balanced, until all tension in your body is gone. Relaxation is the absence of tension or tightness in your body. Relaxation can also be described as a state of being that you experience which exhibits the absence of stress, anxiety or tension. Relaxation is the return of the human experience to a state of equilibrium from a state of stress, anxiety or tension, or reducing these states. Your ability or inability to relax impacts on your general health, your mental thoughts, emotional feelings and behavioural activities.

Is Relaxation Needed?

Relaxation can be effective at preventing the build-up of stress, anxiety and tension. There are many self-help techniques available to promote good mental and physical health, and relaxation is one of the most effective. Relaxation can also useful as an addition to other forms of treatment.

Is Relaxation Important?

Relaxation is your natural human state but it is not always your normal state due to the excessive demands modern daily life places on you. Too many demands on you can cause you mental and physical symptoms of stress, tension and anxiety such as headaches, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure. Practising relaxation on a regular basis helps to relieve and to some extent, prevent the symptoms of stress, tension and anxiety. Relaxation makes you feel better, better at coping with the stressors in your life, and more resilient.

Is Relaxation Easy?

Relaxation can be easy if you find techniques that suit you. Should you find relaxation difficult, self-hypnosis and similar techniques should make it easier for you to reach a state of relaxation on demand. Develop a daily relaxation routine and you should experience the benefits and balance relaxation can bring to your life.

What Is The "Relaxation Response"?

The relaxation response is a term coined in 1975 by Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School. It defines a deep state of mental and physiological rest that you may elicit through the use of “good breathing techniques,” together with the use of active muscle relaxation and meditation, as methods for lowering blood pressure and reducing internal and external stress. The relaxation response is a mechanism for protecting your body against stress by bringing about a decrease in the heart rate, a lowering of the metabolism, and a reduced rate of breathing. It can be induced via various relaxation strategies and techniques and is the physiologic opposite to the "fight or flight" stress response.

What Are The Effects Of The Relaxation Response?

If you induce the relaxation response you can put the brakes on stress, tension and anxiety by bringing your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium. When you activate your relaxation response your:
  • Heart rate slows down;
  • Breathing becomes slower and deeper;
  • Blood pressure reduces or normalizes;
  • Muscles relax;
  • Body starts to heal itself.
In addition to the calming physical effects that the relaxation response can produce, it can also:
  • Increase energy and focus;
  • Help combat illness;
  • Help relieve aches and pains;
  • Improve problem-solving abilities; and
  • Boost motivation and productivity.

What Works Best For Eliciting The Relaxation Response?

Most people begin by using a guided relaxation technique on a CD or DVD, then over time, they may become more as ease using a self-directed relaxation technique such as repeating a word or phrase. There are many ways to elicit the relaxation response. Find one that works best for you.

What Else Can I Do To Be More Relaxed?

You can reduce your stress, tension and anxiety levels and support a more relaxed and calmer you by making changes in your whole life, including diet, exercise, work, your attitudes, beliefs and overall lifestyle.

What If I Fall Asleep When Eliciting The Relaxation Response?

It will not do you any harm if you fall asleep while trying to elicit the relaxation response. However, to receive the benefits of the relaxation response you would need to carry on practising for around 5 to 10 minutes after you wake up. To avoid falling asleep for a long period of time choose a sitting posture to do your relaxation practice. If you have sleep difficulties then the relaxation response can be an effective method to help you unwind, so plan your practice immediately before bedtime.

What If I Can't Find 20 Minutes Daily To Elicit The Relaxation Response?

Practicing the elicitation of the relaxation response for 15-20 minutes, two times per day is recommended. However, any time you can find will be beneficial, especially time before breakfast. If you practice early before breakfast you will be able to start the day with a positive tone which will serve as an awareness foundation for the remainder of your day.


About Relaxation

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