What is relaxation?

RelaxationRelaxation is a state of low stimulation or a process of relieving tension caused by stress. Relaxation can be achieved in many ways, and almost everyone has their own way of relaxing. The most efficient ways to relax are relaxation methods such as autogenic training, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, etc. These techniques allow deep relaxation quickly and after consistent practice, a relaxed state can be maintained for several hours. The mechanism behind relaxation is a relaxation response, which lowers stress gathered throughout the day. Stress triggers our bodies' mechanism called the stress response, which prepares us to deal with danger by either "fight or flight". The consistent tension present throughout our busy lifestyles forces us to consider using some kind of stress management techniques. There are several relaxation methods or ways to cope with stress efficiently and most of them elicit our bodies' relaxation response mechanism.

Deep relaxation with relaxation techniques

Deep relaxation can be achieved through this relaxation response, which is, in short, the opposite of a stress response. If a stress response heightens our stress hormone cortisol levels, a relaxation response lowers it. When we are under high levels of stress our heartbeat accelerates, our blood pressure heightens, our immune system weakens, and we become anxious or in a bad mood. All these symptoms are reversed when we elicit a relaxation response.

There are several relaxation techniques or ways to elicit a relaxation response. Autogenic training offers deep relaxation in just 10-15 minutes and is respected by western medicine. Transcendental meditation is probably one of the most researched stress-relieving techniques. Zen and yoga work as well and even prayer done properly evokes relaxation. There are also quality western stress management techniques that lack spirituality. The oldest and most widely known is certainly hypnosis, followed by autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation. 

Why the need to relax?

Why would we want to relax or be relaxed is a relevant question. We all know we feel good when we are relaxed, but there is more to it than that.

Relaxation Cold Relaxation done properly has many positive advantages and, for some, even unexpected effects on our health and wellbeing. Lowering stress is the mechanism behind every relaxation technique and it results in many positive health outcomes. Relaxation practiced several times daily for 10-15 minutes each time can help treat (as long as the condition is stress-related) many health concerns, including:

The relaxation response is also a good companion for problems related to angina (chest pain), arthritis, asthma, blushing, cancer, high cholesterol levels, menstrual problems, palpitations, pregnancy, PMS, smoking, sports injuries, and many others. Deep relaxation also boosts our immune system and protects us from problems related to a poor immune system, which can be as simple as a common cold or as serious as cancer.

We all have our own ways of relaxing, such as reading a good book or watching TV or maybe going out. While these common activities can and do have some effect in terms of a relaxation response, using a stress management technique is still the most healthy and efficient form of achieving relaxation.