Relaxation : uses and techniques

A relaxation technique is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of pain, anxiety, stress or anger.

Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.

Relaxation technique

People respond to stress in different ways, namely, by becoming overwhelmed, depressed or both.

Yoga, QiGong, Taiji, and Pranayama that includes deep breathing tend to calm people who are overwhelmed by stress, while rhythmic exercise improves the mental and physical health of those who are depressed.

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People who encounter both symptoms simultaneously, feeling depressed in some ways and overexcited in others, may do best by walking or performing yoga techniques that are focused on strength.

Uses

People use relaxation techniques for the following reasons, among others:

  • Anger management
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Cardiac health
  • Childbirth
  • Depression
  • General well-being
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Preparation for hypnosis
  • Immune system support
  • Insomnia
  • Pain management
  • Relaxation (psychology)
  • Stress management
  • Addiction treatment
  • Nightmare disorder

Techniques

Various techniques are used by individuals to improve their state of relaxation. Some of the methods are performed alone; some require the help of another person (often a trained professional); some involve movement, some focus on stillness; while other methods involve different elements.

Some forms of bodywork are helpful in promoting a state of increased relaxation. Examples a

  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • the Feldenkrais Method
  • myotherapy
  • reflexology
  • and self-regulation

Some relaxation methods can also be used during other activities, for example, autosuggestion and prayer.

At least one study has suggested that listening to certain types of music, particularly new-age music and classical music, can increase feelings associated with relaxation, such as peacefulness and a sense of ease.

Even actions as simple as a walk in the park have been shown to aid feelings of relaxation, regardless of the initial reason for the visit.

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