The Relaxation Response can help you get stress relief.

What is The Relaxation Response? It's more than just chilling out. I'll explain more in a minute but first, I want to talk about why such techniques are so important.

How is getting your car's oil changed like stress relief?

Hold on. We'll get there.

It's no secret that stress can make you seriously ill. When poorly managed, stress contributes to all manner of medical and psychological disorders.

But what does that have to do with automobile maintenance?

To get the best performance from your car, you have to take good care of it. You have to...

  • make sure your tires are inflated properly and have sufficient tread
  • have the oil changed regularly
  • keep the windows, mirrors, and lights clean
  • have the brakes checked and repaired as problems occur
  • make sure the belts are not worn out, too loose, or too tight
  • check the battery regularly, clean off any corrosion, and replace it when needed
  • keep the fluids at the proper level, including the coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, and brake fluid.

I could go on but you get the idea. If you want to get the most out of your car, you have to maintain it.

The same thing is true of your body. However, unlike your car, your body has built-in repair systems. When you are injured, your body can heal itself. If your body is invaded by germs, allergens, or abnormal cells (such as cancer cells), it has mechanisms and processes that destroy these enemies to your health and wellbeing.

If all of that is true, why is it hard to stay healthy? And what does this have to do with stress relief?

I'm getting to that. Just give me a minute.

To maintain your car, you have to turn the key off from time to time. You can't change the oil while driving down the highway at 70 mph.

The same is true of your body. When your body is dealing with all the stressors of life, it can't heal itself.

Coping with stressors turns your body's stress response system on. You know, the one we call the flight-fight response.

Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are flowing through your body and energy is being produced so that you can deal with the stressors.

However, your immune system is being suppressed. Self-repair is not your body's priority at the moment. So you get sick, or if you are already sick, you stay sick.

For your body to heal itself so that you can regain health, the stress response has to be turned off. This allows your immune system to begin functioning at full capacity.

One way to turn the stress response off is to relax deeply.

What is The Relaxation Response?

The Relaxation Response is a secular version of Transcendental Meditation. It was developed by Dr. Herbert Benson, while he was doing meditation research at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Benson and his coauthor, Miriam Z. Klipper, described the process and it's effects on health in their book, The Relaxation Response, published in 1975.

The technique is very easy to learn. You can find instruction for a six step process to elicit the response here. Although all six steps can help you achieve the deep level of relaxation being sought, it seems that only steps 4 and 6 are essential.

You can't get much easier than that!

How does The Relaxation Response help you?

The Relaxation Response turns off your stress response allowing your body's self-healing process to become active. As you body repairs itself many medical symptoms and disorders improve. Research has found that the technique can help improve...

  • angina pectoris
  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • allergic skin reactions
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • bronchial asthma
  • herpes simplex
  • cough
  • constipation
  • diabetes mellitus
  • duodenal ulcers
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • hypertension
  • infertility
  • insomnia
  • nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
  • nervousness
  • postoperative swelling
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • side effects of cancer
  • side effects of AIDS
  • backaches
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • postoperative pain
  • neck pain
  • arm pain
  • leg pain


Is it time for your body to receive some maintenance; that is, some restorative relaxation? If so, how do you plan to relax?

One of my favorite ways is to sit in the backyard and listen to the birds sing while relaxing.

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