Complementary Health Approaches
Frequently Asked Questions
7. How are relaxation techniques used?
Relaxation techniques are designed to produce the body's natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of calm and well-being.
Some people use relaxation techniques to release tension and to counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques have also been studied to see whether they might be of value in managing various health problems such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other conditions.
Relaxation techniques include the following:
- In autogenic training, you learn to concentrate on the physical sensations of warmth, heaviness, and relaxation in different parts of your body.
- Biofeedback techniques measure body functions and give you information about them so that you can learn to control them. Biofeedback-assisted relaxation uses electronic devices to teach you to produce changes in your body that are associated with relaxation, such as reduced muscle tension.
Deep Breathing or Breathing Exercises
- This technique involves focusing on taking slow, deep, even breaths.
- For this technique, people are taught to focus on pleasant images to replace negative or stressful feelings. Guided imagery may be self-directed or led by a practitioner or a recording.
- This technique, also called Jacobson relaxation or progressive muscle relaxation, involves tightening and relaxing various muscle groups. Progressive relaxation is often combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises.
- In self-hypnosis programs, people are taught to produce the relaxation response when prompted by a phrase or nonverbal cue (called a “suggestion”).