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What is relaxation?
Relaxation is a process that helps to decrease the effects of stress. Relaxation techniques can help you manage stress and enjoy a better quality of life. Practicing various techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
- Decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Decreasing fatigue
- Improving concentration and mood
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners can teach relaxation techniques; but there are some that you can learn on your own. Such as:
- Focusing on a positive mantra while meditating for a few minutes each day.
- Focusing on breathing deeply for a period of 5 minutes.
- Focusing on one behavior with awareness, such as how your feet feel when you’re walking.
- Decompressing by placing a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Remove the wrap and use a tennis ball to massage away tension.
- Belly laughing – tune into a comedy or read funny jokes.
- Listening to soothing music or nature sounds.
- Exercising – all forms will help the brain release feel-good chemicals in your body.
Relaxation techniques take practice. If one technique doesn’t work for you, try another. As your skills improve, you’ll recognize your reaction to every day stress and can intervene more quickly.