The Power of Relaxation

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Most people find it quite difficult to relax. With all the demands being placed on us by work, family, and things we think we ought to be doing or to have done, our mind tends to constantly shoot “stuff” at us – mostly at times when we cannot do anything about it anyway!

Various pieces of new research indicate that, in addition to the obvious psychological effects of relieving stress and mental tension, deep relaxation can moreover strengthen the immune system and produce a multitude of other benefits. These include widening of respiratory passages (good for asthmatics), reducing the need for insulin for diabetics, relieving chronic pain, reducing susceptibility to viruses, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Any form of deep relaxation seems to bring these benefits, be it meditation, massage, praying, or any other intensive techniques that evoke a specific physiological state and triggers the “relaxation response”. Having some quiet time in front of the TV, doing a bit of gardening or such like is unfortunately not enough to produce the physiological changes required to have these effects, according to Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). ”You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

That’s exactly what massage is good for! Read more in this New York Times article.

Also check out our resources section which contains some more information about the stress response, ie the opposite to the relaxation response : Your body is in either mode, ie either in Fight/Flight/Freeze mode (stress response), which activates the sympathetic nervous system, or it is in Rest and Digest mode, which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Balance is key, as it holds true for everything in life…