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Your Relaxation Response

"When the relaxation response is called on, heart rate and blood pressure drop. Breathing rate and oxygen consumption decline because of the profound decrease in the need for energy. Brain waves shift from an alert beta rhythm to a relaxed alpha rhythm. Blood flow to the muscles decreases, and instead, blood is sent to the brain and skin, producing a feeling of warmth and rested mental alertness." Dr. Joan Borysenko

Inside of you is an extraordinary system that either excites you or sedates you. It's your nervous system.

If your nervous system is excited to the extreme it causes stress and anxiety. If it's sedated to the extreme it causes you to be tranquilized. But if it's just right, you relax and become calm.

You have control over it. The more you consciously work with your nervous system the more you will relax.

Relaxing. It is the natural response of your body calming down. And when you calm down you feel better.

Here's how you relax:

There are two parts to your nervous system:
1. Sympathetic system
2. Parasympathetic system

The sympathetic signals the fight or flight response. It's the ancient response of your human body to preserve it's own life from danger. You literally inherited it from your ancestors who lived millions of years ago. It's also called the stress response. You can learn more about the fight or flight response here

Modern life and living can be perceived as dangerous, whether real or imagined, in many ways. This will turn on the stress response. This flight or fight response is a very good thing when the threat is true. When it's not true, then it can harm you. It causes stress and anxiety and it lowers your immunity.

Also, when the flight or fight response is still turned on, you can have emotional, mental and behavioral reactions that are much bigger than what's actually happening to you.

Enter your parasympathetic nervous system. This part of your nervous system turns on the relaxation response. And it turns off the fight or fight switch.

Modern life and living can also be perceived as safe. When you feel safe and secure, your nerves send data to the brain saying, "Our life is not in danger. We are safe." Literally, hormones flood the body. These hormones, dopamine, endorphins and more, calm and sedate the body.

The relaxation response brings feelings of being unified and coming together. The fight or flight response makes us feel on alert, anxious and scattered.

Both are part of you and your nervous system
And you have control.

Flip the switch and invoke the response of relaxation. You can learn to flood your body with happy hormones that immediately begin to help you relax.

takes time and commitment but remarkably, you can begin shifting your nervous system from fight-flight mode to relaxation mode.
You can move away from stress and anxiety and towards peace and unity.

Stress relief techniques for pain and stress reduction

Let's shift. And reclaim your calm.

All exercises on this site help to cultivate your body's relaxing response. There are many ways to turn it on. The most efficient way is using your breath.

A self-care moment. Try this:

How to Turn On Your Relaxation Response

  1. Pre-assessment: Assess your stress level before you begin.
    Use a 1 to 10 scale. 1 you feel great. 10 you feel very stressed.
    Where's your stress level right now?

  2. Breathe the complete natural breath.
  3. Inhale slowly, at your own pace, and count from 1 to 10.
    Hold your breath for 5 counts.
    Exhale slowly, at your own pace, counting from 1 to 10.
    Hold your out-breath for 5 counts.
    Repeat this exercise ten times or more.

  4. Post-assessment: Assess your stress level now. Use the 1 to 10 scale again. Where's your stress level now? What do you notice?
  5. Do this exercise as you need to.

Invoke your relaxation response. It's the natural outcome of any stress relief technique. Use it to reclaim your calm.

Beck, M.F., (1988) Milady's Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, Delmar Publishing, Albany, NY, p. 602.
Borysenko, J. (1987) Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Worldwide.

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