Thursday, 18 October 2012 | 12 comments
Relaxing is good for the body. This is the basis why there are many relaxation techniques currently available. Stress creates tension, and tension can be released by relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques can counteract the ill effects of stress and can induce sleep, reduce pain, calm emotions and promote a sense of well being. This is because when the body is relaxed, breathing gets slower and blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, creating less stress on the body.
There are many types of relaxation techniques to choose from. One is autogenic training, in which a person focuses on his or her own breathing or heartbeat and pictures his or her body as warm, heavy, or relaxed. Another is biofeedback which uses electronic devices to teach you how to consciously produce the relaxation response. Biofeedback is sometimes used to relieve conditions that are caused or worsened by stress. Another relaxation technique is deep breathing or breathing exercises, which make you consciously slow your breathing and focus on taking regular and deep breaths.
Other relaxation techniques include guided imagery, progressive relaxation and self-hypnosis. Meditation and yoga are also forms of relaxation techniques. Guided imagery makes you focus on pleasant images to replace negative or stressful feelings and relax. Guided imagery may be directed by you or a practitioner through storytelling or descriptions designed to suggest mental images (also called visualization).
Progressive relaxation makes you focus on tightening and relaxing each muscle group. Progressive relaxation is often combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises.
In self-hypnosis, you produce the relaxation response with a phrase or nonverbal cue (called a "suggestion"). Self-hypnosis may be used to relieve pain (tension headaches, labor, or minor surgery) as well as to treat anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.
Relaxation techniques are often helpful in certain medical conditions such as stress, high blood pressure, chronic pain, insomnia, depression, labor pain, headache, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, chemotherapy side effects, and others. The question now is, are these relaxation techniques being researched upon by experts? The answer is, yes. Research over the past 30 years have uncovered more medical conditions which can be alleviated by relaxation techniques. For example, research shows that relaxation may assist in the treatment of phobias or panic disorder. Also, in 2008, a major review of the evidence for relaxation in the treatment of depression found out that relaxation techniques were more effective than no treatment for depression, but not as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy. There is also some evidence that biofeedback and other relaxation techniques may be helpful for relieving tension or migraine headaches. Relaxation techniques have also been found out to relieve pain after surgery, decrease high blood pressure, improve lung function and quality of life in people with asthma, relieve nausea from chemotherapy, relieve pain and fatigue in fibromyalgia, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, reduce risk of heart disease and treat insomnia.
Other possible applications of relaxation techniques include decreasing pain in temporomandibular disorder, relieve ringing in the ears, reduction of the desire to smoke, control of urinary urgency, treatment of nightmares and relieve hot flashes.
Relaxation techniques are generally safe for healthy people although there are rare reports that certain relaxation techniques might cause or worsen symptoms in people with epilepsy or certain psychiatric conditions, or with a history of abuse or trauma. If you have heart disease, talk to your doctor first before undergoing relaxation techniques. Also, do not use relaxation techniques as alternative to medical care for your health problems.