Relaxation techniques are ways to quiet your body and calm your mind. They help you deal with stress, anxiety, and the pressures of everyday life.
What is stress?
When you feel stressed, your body releases chemicals into your blood. These chemicals give you the energy to fight or to escape. This helps if you are in physical danger. But if you have stress caused by something you cannot fight or escape, the chemicals keep building up. This raises your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder. This kind of stress can affect your physical and mental health. Many office visits to healthcare providers are for problems related to stress, such as:
Back pain, headaches, or stomachaches
Change in appetite, heartburn or upset stomach
Trouble focusing or remembering things
Learning to relax can:
Help you focus better on work or other activities
Help you sleep better
Take your mind off what is bothering you
Help with physical symptoms by decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension
What can I do to relax?
Relaxation skills include:
Deep breathing: Focusing on taking slow deep breaths
Mental imaging: Picturing yourself in a calm place and letting your muscles relax
Mindfulness: Focusing only on the present moment, without judging, and not thinking of the past or future
Progressive muscle relaxation: Tensing and relaxing your body, one muscle group at a time
If you would like to learn more about relaxation techniques, check your local community college or community center. They may offer classes in relaxation techniques.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-01-27 Last reviewed: 2014-01-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Relaxation Techniques: References
Effects of aerobic exercise program and relaxation techniques on anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial.
Selection of key stressors to develop virtual environments for practicing stress management skills with military personnel prior to deployment. Bouchard S, Baus O, Bernier F, McCreary DR. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2010 Feb;13(1):83-94.
Preventive staff-support interventions for health workers. van Wyk BE, Pillay-Van Wyk V. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Mar 17;3:CD003541. Review.
The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning; New Harbinger Publications; 2008.
Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition by Paul M. Lehrer PhD, Robert L. Woolfolk Phd, Wesley E. Sime PhD, and David H. Barlow PhD; Guilford Press; 2008.