Active relaxation: benefits, techniques and more

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Active relaxation is an umbrella term that encompasses complementary health practices to promote overall well-being. Active relaxation involves mind-body techniques that focus on movement and intentionally use your mind and thoughts to relax and reduce stress. This technique is different from passive relaxation, which includes activities like watching TV, surfing the Internet, and scrolling your phone to give your mind a break.

This article will discuss the benefits of active relaxation and the different techniques.

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Benefits of active relaxation

The goal of active relaxation techniques is to decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for increased arousal, stimulation of bodily systems and stress. Active relaxation techniques focus on inducing a relaxation response, which can help to:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Decrease pain
  • Improve mood
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Control heart rate and breathing
  • Reduce muscle tension

Active relaxation techniques

There are several active relaxation techniques you can use to help manage stress and increase relaxation. Current research does not suggest that one method alone is superior to another.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. This approach uses all major muscle groups, from toes to head, to promote overall body relaxation, focusing on tension and stress relief when muscle tension is released.

This technique is often used with other behavioral therapies and will make your body respond better to anxiety.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is a deep breathing technique used to increase the activity of the diaphragm in order to take deeper breaths. This increases the amount of oxygen in the body by allowing your belly to expand with each breath.

Deep breathing techniques can help decrease sympathetic nervous system activity and interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Diaphragmatic breathing also helps lower blood pressure and reduce the production of stress hormones, and improve lung function.

Autogenic Relaxation

Autogenic relaxation, or autogenic training, is a technique that focuses on relaxing certain parts of the body. Unlike progressive muscle relaxation, the muscles are not tensed before attention is directed to muscle relaxation.

Autogenic relaxation involves sitting or lying down in a calm environment to focus on six different body areas to promote balance between the sympathetic (stimulating) and parasympathetic (resting) nervous systems. These areas include:

  • Heaviness in your muscles
  • Heat in your arms, legs, and other parts of the body
  • Slower and more relaxed heart rate
  • Slower and more relaxed breathing
  • Belly relaxation
  • Forehead freshness

Autogenic means “self-generated” or “coming from within”.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a technique of focusing attention on the present moment with openness and acceptance. This means adjusting to your senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. Mindfulness meditation helps increase awareness of your external environment and internal sensations to promote relaxation and reduce stress and pain.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Yoga is a mind-body practice that focuses on different movements and postures combined with deep breathing, meditation and relaxation. Tai Chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow, controlled movements. Both types of exercise can help promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Massage

Massaging tight, stressed muscles can provide physical pressure to relieve muscle tension, which can help relieve stress and chronic pain.

Active relaxation tips

It is best to find a calm and quiet environment free from noise and distractions to allow you to concentrate while performing active relaxation techniques. Consider taking time in the morning to establish a state of relaxation and start your day positively, or at the end of your day to wind down and unwind from daily stressors.

Too much stress can be incredibly harmful to the body, increasing inflammation levels and the risk of many serious diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Be sure to take the time to practice active relaxation techniques or find healthy outlets like exercising or socializing with friends to help manage your stress levels.

Summary

Active relaxation techniques are mind-body practices that aim to direct your thoughts to induce a feeling of relaxation and improve your overall well-being. Active relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, autogenic relaxation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, and massage, can help reduce stress, anxiety, pain , muscle tension and blood pressure.

A word from Verywell

Not all techniques will work for everyone. Start slow and experiment with different approaches to see which works best for you. Even five minutes a day to focus your attention on relaxation can help reduce your stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the types of relaxation?

    Active relaxation involves mind-body techniques that focus on intentionally using your mind and thoughts to alter your physical and emotional well-being, while passive relaxation involves activities such as watching television, surfing internet or scrolling through your phone that help your mind take a break from everyday life. questions and concerns.

  • What is the most relaxing activity?

    Relaxation activities vary according to personal preferences and may include such things as active relaxation techniques, passive relaxation activities, listening to music, drawing or painting, cooking, cleaning, reading, bathing, having sex, exercise and spending time in nature. .

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