The Relaxation Response
The relaxation response can be described as a set of parasympathetic nervous system responses that counters the stress response and relieves stress.
Here we provide a number of relaxation techniques and exercises that activate this response and fight stress.
It may be very difficult to control some causes of stress...the irate boss, the traffic jam and long commutes to work, or an unrelenting schedule...
BUT that doesn’t mean that you need to be passive to the effects of stress.
While it may not be possible to control all the causes of stress you can choose to counter the effects of stress which may be harmful to you.
In scientific studies conducted at Harvard University, Dr Benson developed the relaxation response, a meditation technique that activates the body's natural physiological changes that aid in protecting you from distress.
How the relaxation response counters the effects of stress
Stress, Relaxation and the Body The fight or flight response can be described as a set of sympathetic nervous system responses. The relaxing response counters the stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Stress, Relaxation and the Body
The fight or flight response can be described as a set of sympathetic nervous system responses.
The relaxing response counters the stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
This response was first described by Herbert Benson MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
It activates the parasympathetic system resulting in a reduced heart rate and blood pressure, a slowing down of your breathing and a restoration of your body back to an overall healthier balance.
Thus the response helps to counter the effects of stress on the body and mind.
The table below shows how the fight and flight response can be countered by the body's natural relaxation effect.
It is important to note that these are both natural states of the body that are activated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
What Dr Benson discovered was that it is possible to deliberately activate this response through his technique.
Dr Benson’s Relaxation Response
Studying practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM), Dr Benson developed a different technique that had a much lower price tag than TM but had a similar good effect on the mind and the body.
The following technique is adapted from Dr Benson’s “The Relaxation Response” (1975, p. 114-115):
Note: I generally like to replace the word "ONE" with "CALM" and "RELAXED".
I do this for a number of reasons, but primarily because 'ONE' could have connotations of competitiveness that may work against the practice. I have found that the words "CALM" and "RELAXED" have worked well in session with clients.
Other relaxation techniques that activate the relaxation effect
Over a number of years of experimentation, the relaxation effect is found to be consistently activated across a variety of relaxation techniques.
Some of these include:
Search here for other relaxation techniques
Related stress management articles
Best Ways to Relax: 10 Best Ways to Relax
Easy Relaxation Techniques: Techniques To Easily Relax and De-Stress
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