Relaxation Response: How Relaxation Works to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

The relaxation response is opposite to the body's stress response. Relaxation is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety. Here's how relaxation works to manage stress symptoms.

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When anxiety strikes, the body is exhibiting the stress response. When seeking ways to deal with stress and anxiety symptoms, consider the symptoms that are problematic: headaches, insomnia, muscle stiffness, high blood pressure.... or whatever other symptoms you find troublesome.

Relaxation works as a stress and anxiety cure, because it induces the opposite of the fight-or-flight response, and as a result causes the opposite symptoms.

According to Benson, in his book The Relaxation Response, the relaxation response is the process of de-escalating the stress response and inducing relaxation through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a normal and natural response that the body does automatically. It is also the response of the body when relaxation techniques are used. Relaxation techniques allow you to experience this response when you choose to.

Parasympathetic Activation - Some characteristics of the relaxation response:

- breathing becomes slow and deep, resulting in the necessary amount of oxygen intake

- muscles become less tense

- a feeling of calm is experienced

- organ function, such as digestion, occurs normally

- the ability to think clearly is enhanced

- memory improves

- improved concentration

- feelings of confidence and calm rather than anxiety and fear

- increased mental clarity

- better sleep, more restful sleep, easier falling asleep

- increased productivity during the day

- stress hormones return to normal levels

- improved immune system (stress hormones interfere with immune system function, while relaxation improves immunity)

Basically, relaxation induces calm, level, normal body functioning.

How to Induce Relaxation

Relaxation is a natural remedy for anxiety and an excellent way to deal with stress because it counteracts the symptoms experienced during the stress response. To effectively induce relaxation, there are various relaxation techniques that can be used.

For the most benefit, try out different relaxation techniques in full. But for quick relief of stress or quick intervention in case of an anxiety attack, a few of the most effective components of these techniques can be used as quick says to trigger relaxation:

- deep breathing

- consciously relax key muscles

- shake it out

- yawn and stretch

- block out stimulation

Check out the relaxation therapy page for a look at HOW and WHY to do each of the above.

If you're thinking "relaxation sounds great, but I'm too busy too relax," find out how to fit relaxation into even the busiest of schedules.

Find more information on the Relaxation Advice page - learn more about stress, relaxation, how to relax, and more.



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