Relaxation: Removal of tension from the muscles and the mind.
What Learn Relaxation Techniques?
Our fast-paced society can cause people to push their minds and bodies to the limit, often at the expense of physical and mental well being. According to the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University, 60 – 90% of all medical office visits in the United States are for stress related disorders. Such stress has damaging effects on health and the immune system.
Relaxation techniques are helpful tools for coping with stress and promoting long-term health by slowing down the body and quieting the mind. Such techniques generally entail: refocusing attention (for example, noticing areas of tension), increasing body awareness, and exercises (such as meditation) to connect the body and mind together. Used daily, these practices can lead to a healthier perspective on stressful circumstances. In fact, more than 3,000 studies show the beneficial effects of relaxation on health and well being.
What Types Of Relaxation Technique Are There?
There are three major types of relaxation techniques:
- Autogenic training: This technique uses both visual imagery and body awareness to move a person into a deep state of relaxation. The person imagines a peaceful place and then focuses on different physical sensations, moving from the feet to the head. For example, one might focus on warmth and heaviness in the limbs, easy, natural breathing, or a calm heartbeat.
- Breathing: Techniques that enable you to become more aware of your natural breathing patterns and teach you how to breathe correctly.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves slowly tensing and then releasing each muscle group individually, starting with the muscles in the toes and finishing with those in the head.
What Are Relaxation Techniques Good For?
Research suggests that meditation can help improve a person’s quality of life and reduce stress hormone levels.
Clinical studies also show that relaxation techniques reduce the perception of pain. One clinical study found that among patients undergoing colorectal surgery, those who listened to guided imagery tapes before, during, and after the operation had less pain and needed fewer pain medications than those who did not. Another found that relaxation practices, such as deep breathing, progressive relations, and visualization enhanced the immune response among breast cancer patients.
Relaxation techniques can also enhance coping skills in migraine sufferers and reduce stress, as well as improve mood in those with cancer.