What is relaxation and why is it important?

Relaxation is wonderful. It is a time when you experience peace, serenity, and, dare I say, “bliss.” It´s like pressing the pause button on life, its problems, deadlines, responsibilities, need I say more?

When was the last time you relaxed without a care in the world? Last night, last week, or has it been so long ago now; that you don´t remember anymore? What does relaxation mean to you?

Let´s dive into the meaning of relaxation and why it is vital for health and well-being.

What is relaxation

Relaxation is a process that offers freedom from tension and anxiety and is one of the best natural remedies for stress, anxiety, and depression. Relaxation can also improve healing and help you control your body to enhance your health.

Stress is in abundance in our world today. You may not always be able to avoid stress, but you can control it for your health and well-being. It´s no secret that chronic stress hurts your body and health. Studies show that chronic stress increases your chances of developing chronic diseases. Stress can affect your physical, emotional, and psychological health. That is why relaxation is so important to deal with stress in healthy ways, which can save and prolong your life.

What are relaxation techniques?

Relaxation techniques are ways to assist your body´s relaxation response from a trigger of the stress response. There are many benefits of relaxation techniques:

  • slow heart and breathing rates
  • reduce pain
  • decrease muscle tension
  • helpful in labor and childbirth
  • decrease blood pressure rates
  • calms mind
  • offers the body “rest and digest” time
  • increase immune system functions
  • weaken stress and dangerous effects on physical, emotional, and psychological health
  • allows the body time to play catch up
  • improve digestion
  • enrich your body with oxygen
  • control blood sugar levels
  • reduce the activity of stress hormones
  • increase blood flow
  • reduce muscle pain
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve mood and focus
  • improve sleep
  • energizes you
  • boost ability to deal with problems
  • improves mood and focus

Types of Relaxation Techniques

There are many types of relaxation techniques ranging from easy exercises, which you can do almost anywhere and at any time, (breathing) to more complex ones where you may need to be under specialist supervision (some types of Biofeedback).

Let´s take a look at some of the most conventional techniques. The first seven techniques are the fastest ways to release stress, and some of them are low/no cost.

1) Breathing techniques

This technique is one of the easiest, most convenient techniques. It involves deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing techniques release tension, provide the body/cell with renewed oxygenation, and positively affects feelings and thoughts.

2) Laughter

Laughter is the best medicine. It can reduce food cravings, increase pain tolerance, reduce the presence of stress hormones, increase endorphins, and anti-body-producing cells, and increase the effectiveness of T-cells.

3) Meditation

Meditation helps your mind and body to relax. Mindful meditation focuses on leading you into a relaxed state.

4) Journaling

Journaling is a constructive way to evaluate your thought processes and feelings. It allows you to identify and change destructive feelings and behavior through a therapeutic exercise.

5) Music

Music can have a significant impact on your mood.

6) Visualization

Visualization uses mental images to embark on a journey of peace and serenity. It is best to use as many senses as possible to enrich the experience, such as smell, sound, and touch.

7) Progressive Muscle Relaxation

The focus is on slowly tensing and relaxing each muscle group. This technique allows you to be more observant of physical sensations. You can start from top to bottom (head to toe) or vice versa.

8) Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy is a technique that provides feelings of deep relaxation and pain reduction.

9) Autogenic Relaxation

The concept behind this technique is that this process originates within you. It uses a series of mental exercises through visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress and make you more aware of physical sensations. There are six stages in Auto genetics. The process uses words or phrases together with visualization that enables relaxation through uncovering the unconscious. Autogenic relaxation is primarily for people suffering from anxiety and depression.

1. Feel muscles are heavy.

2. Feel the warmth in arms, legs, and other body parts.

3. Sensation of a slow, relaxed heartbeat.

4. Acknowledge slower and more relaxed breathing.

5. Relaxation of the abdomen.

6. Allow the sensation of the coolness of the forehead.

10) Self-hypnosis

This technique provides a relaxation response by using a word/phrase like, “I am calm and relaxed,” repetitively.

11) Qi Jong (pronounced Chi Gong)

Qi Jong is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It utilizes exercises to boost energy within the mind, body, and spirit to preserve and improve your general health. The movements are gentle and smooth. It also involves mind regulation, focus, and visualization. It is similar to Tai Chi.

12) Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Chinese practice that involves the mind and body connection. It consists of breathing exercises, meditation, and poses that encourage you to relax and combat stress.

13) Tai chi

Tai chi is another ancient Chinese system that enhances the body-mind connection and supposedly has health benefits for your overall health.

14) Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a process of achieving greater awareness of the body´s physiological functions; by manipulating your body´s system. You can relax your mind and body and deal with stress successfully.

Types of Biofeedback

There are various forms of Biofeedback.

Heart-rate Biofeedback

You wear a sensor-connected device (fingers, ears, wrist, chest, torso). This type of Biofeedback is ideal for asthma and depression.

Galvanic Skin Response/Skin Conductance

This process measures the sweat on the skin´s surface.

Blood pressure Biofeedback

In this type of Biofeedback, you wear a device that gives information about blood pressure.

Thermal Biofeedback/Temperature biofeedback

A device detects the blood flow of the skin. Usually, you experience a drop in body temperature during stressful times. These devices can facilitate the detection of the beginnings of the stress response.

Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)

EEG Biofeedback measures brain activity through scalp sensors attached to an EEG device.

Generally, Biofeedback sessions often last between a half hour to an hour with a specialist, although some devices are available for home purchase.

Conclusion

Relaxation is a pleasant period where you allow your body to unwind and become carefree for a short while. A string of emotional, mental, and physical health benefits accompany relaxation, such as slowing heart rate, reducing muscle tension and pain, increasing blood flow, and allowing the body time to “rest and digest.”

It is good practice to set aside time daily for relaxation by using some of the simple techniques mentioned above. If you believe you have severe chronic stress, consult your physician and seek the help you need to bounce back better and stronger than ever before.

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