“The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress… and the opposite of the fight or flight response.” Dr. Herbert Benson
Other researchers define the relaxation response more generally. “The body is no longer in perceived danger, and the autonomic nervous system functioning returns to normal. During this response, the body moves from a state of physiological arousal, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, slowed digestive functioning, decreased blood flow to the extremities, increased release of hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, and other responses preparing the body to fight or run, to a state of physiological relaxation, where blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning and hormonal levels return to their normal state. I f you suffer from chronic stress of arousal your body and mind are in a constant state of physiological arousal over perceived threats that are numerous and not life-threatening. The relaxation response can be induced through techniques such as relaxation, meditation and other stress-management techniques, found in a most helpful series of books by Dr. Jeffrey Brantley.
Over the next 30 days make relaxation and mindfulness a part of your daily routine: Dr. Herbert Benson in his book The Stress Response provides the following tips for starting and combating destructive stress.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Deeply relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Keep them relaxed.
Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word, “one”*,
silently to yourself. For example,
breathe in … out, “one”,- in .. out, “one”, etc.
Breathe easily and naturally.
Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.
Do not worry about whether you are successful
in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur,
try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them
and return to repeating “one.”
With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice the technique once or twice daily,
but not within two hours after any meal,
since the digestive processes seem to interfere with
the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.