Relaxation and Health

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome RelaxationRelaxation can help treat irritable bowel syndrome. In research done by Laurie Keefer and Edward B. Blanchard (2001) people with IBS were treated by a relaxation technique (relaxation response meditation), which resulted in significant improvements for flatulence, belching, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. A one-year follow-up study showed that the reduction of symptoms had been maintained (Keefer 2002), meaning that relaxation can provide both short-term and long-term benefits for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome.

While relaxation can help treat IBS, the extent differs from person to person. It should be mentioned that relaxation methods also have other positive effects on wellbeing and life stress symptoms and can improve the overall quality of life of a practitioner. Deciding to manage irritable bowel syndrome with relaxation has therefore also many positive "side effects".


Relaxation can help reduce the severity of eczema and the irritation associated with the disorder. In research by McMenamy, et al (1988) patients with eczema, were treated by biofeedback and progressive relaxation. There were improvements in self-monitoring the condition, anxiety associated with the condition, and also areas affected. The research also included a two-year follow-up with many asymptomatic subjects.
Eczema is often associated with anxiety due to the embarrassment of what the skin looks like. Stress management techniques can have a great value here. As the research mentions, relaxation can even help affected areas of the skin, which gives further reason to add relaxation to a regimen of possible treatment.


PsoriasisThere are many triggers (medication, injuries, cold weather) that either cause psoriasis to appear or worsen. . One of the triggers is also stress, which can cause pain, inflammation, and itching. In order to manage the condition, it is advisable to try a relaxation technique to lower stress and strengthen the immune system.

Atopic Dermatitis

In research by Ehlers, et al (1995) autogenic training was used as a relaxation therapy for dermatitis. The results were significant improvements in skin condition compared to educational (information) treatment, and a significant reduction in topical steroid use was also recorded. The authors concluded that relaxation as a psychological intervention is a helpful add-on treatment for dermatitis.

Chronic Urticaria

In research done by Shertzer and Lookingbill (1987) 15 patients with chronic urticaria, who had been suffering from the condition for an average of 7-8 years, were treated with relaxation therapy (hypnosis). At a follow-up 14 later, six patients were free of hives, and seven reported improvements.
This research suggests that relaxation can be a great complementary treatment for people with urticaria. It should be mentioned here that using a relaxation technique also has positive effects on the immune system and general wellbeing as well.


There is evidence that stress worsens acne and many people discussing this topic on the web forums concur with their own personal observations. Practicing a relaxation technique lowers stress and may result in positive changes to acne and to the wellbeing of people with these skin problems.


Stress can trigger asthma and stress management for asthma patients is highly recommended. Using a relaxation method to reduce stress is an important management technique for asthma symptoms. Lower stress can mean fewer asthma attacks. Relaxation techniques are useful for children with asthma who should avoid taking too much medication. However, treatment must be supervised by qualified doctors.

Anxiety, stress, and depression

Relaxation techniques can successfully lower feelings of anxiety and symptoms of stress. The success rate here is very good and relaxation can even help with depression, especially combined with medication, since depression is usually comorbid with anxiety. Regular practice is needed in order for relaxation to help, but the results are worth waiting for.

Panic attacks

Panic Attacks Relaxation Panic attacks are stress-related and relaxation can successfully help treat this anxiety disorder. People suffering from this disorder have to be patient in practice since results can only be seen after the adequate practice of a relaxation technique. Results are usually very good.

Colds and Flu

Rest and relaxation are crucial in fighting colds or the flu. Doctors always say that when you catch a cold or have the flu you need to rest and drink plenty of fluids (herbal teas and water). Since relaxation strengthens the immune system (while stress weakens it) it is wise to practice a relaxation technique to help your body fight a cold or the flu. It is difficult to say what effect relaxation has, but since it strengthens the immune system it can be of some help.


Relaxation helps fight both the severity and frequency of migraines. Many studies have been done in this field that confirms this statement. The effects of relaxation can sometimes be delayed by two to three months since you need to learn how to relax and lower the stress levels, which is not a process done in a week, but one that needs time and patience. Besides helping with migraines, people practicing relaxation improve their wellbeing, lower stress, improve relationships, confidence, etc.


Research that confirms relaxation reduces seizures in patients with epilepsy is well-established. However, due to the nature of the condition it is recommended for patients to practice relaxation in a controlled environment. To what extent relaxation techniques help epilepsy differs, as always, from person to person. Relaxation techniques can be an add-on treatment and not the first line of intervention.


Menopause RelaxationEliciting a relaxation response in menopause leads to a reduction in hot flashes and their intensity. Besides hot flashes, concurrent psychological symptoms of tension anxiety, and depression are also significantly reduced. Research is done by Irvin, et al (1996) used women without hormone therapy and supported these conclusions.

Since stress usually worsens symptoms of menopause the described results are intuitive and relaxation can be very helpful in these hard times women go through. Having a tool for lowering stress is a very useful skill at this time in one's life.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Research done by Goodal, et al (1990) observed women with severe premenstrual syndrome symptoms, who were assigned to three groups: a relaxation response group, a reading group, and a charting group. For physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, social withdrawal the group assigned to relaxation showed significantly better improvement (58%) than the other two groups (27% and 17% respectively). The authors concluded that regular relaxation is an effective treatment for the premenstrual symptoms they researched.

This is not the only research to support these results, so women can reasonably expect to notice benefits in this area after successfully practicing a relaxation method.

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

In the early days of researching the relaxation response Taylor, et al (1977) divided patients with essential hypertension, who were treated with medication, into three groups. The first group was a relaxation therapy group, the second received nonspecific therapy, and the last was a medical treatment only ("control") group. When practicing relaxation therapy, patients with hypertension showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared to patients in other groups. This suggests that patients with hypertension can have additional therapy along with medication in the form of relaxation therapy.

Tension headaches

Headaches Relaxation MigrainesRelaxation can help people with tension headaches. Here it should be emphasized, as, in every relaxation therapy, it is important to practice relaxation at least three times per day for 10-15 minutes to achieve the maximum effect. Scientific research often lacks this regular and consistent practice, and at follow-ups, candidates have sometimes stopped practicing relaxation. This regular practice is very important for having long-term effects in treating any condition.

Tension headaches are successfully treated if stress is the cause of the pain. With tension headaches, this is usually the case, so relaxation can be of significant benefit. Some people benefit more than others, but they all lower stress if they practice a relaxation technique in the right way. Having a relaxation method can be a great benefit not only for headaches but for overall quality of life.


Stress worsens the symptoms of fibromyalgia and can cause additional pain. This is probably known best by the people suffering from this condition. Having a relaxation method to lower stress is probably a necessity for everyone with this condition. Feelings of anxiety and depression, which may accompany this condition, can be greatly reduced by practicing a relaxation method. Relaxation techniques are not a miracle cure for fibromyalgia but can improve the quality of life for people with this condition.


There are many different causes of insomnia and in most cases, if you treat the causal condition the insomnia is also treated. In many cases however insomnia does not go away or can be the only condition or so-called primary insomnia.

If stress is the cause of poor sleep, relaxation therapy can significantly help. After using a relaxation method people are usually calm, often sleepy, and report longer and deeper sleep. For many people with insomnia, a relaxation method is all they need to finally get a good night's sleep.


You have to try and see what results in relaxation techniques bring for you. Remember at least three sessions of correct practice per day for 10-15 minutes per session for at least three months is necessary before you can judge whether or not relaxation works for you. Relaxation therapy is an investment with numerous positive effects. Even if it does not help with your primary problem, it can also have other health benefits and your time and effort will definitely pay off. Trust the process!

More information


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Stress and relaxation

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