Stress & Anxiety (Self-Care) - Relaxation Response

Written by: 
Self-Care Library

Our bodies and minds are hard-wired to look out for challenges and respond to them. Then, when the danger has passed, all our revved-up preparations for action are supposed to go into reverse. So, just as we are designed for action, we are also hard-wired for the sort of calmness and self-healing that gets our bodies back into balance.

This natural set of calming-down reactions can switch off the hyped-up emergency state. As it does, your breathing and heart rate slow down, pumped up muscles loosen up and and your blood pressure drops to normal. The relaxation response draws cholesterolA substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. and inflammationThe body’s response to injury. chemicals out of the bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid., helps your digestion to work properly, and helps your body resist infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites.. It can turn down the volume control on pain, and help warmth flow where it's needed in the body. It can even make you more peaceful, creative and patient!

In the 1960s Herbert Benson, of Harvard Medical School discovered that when people learned to turn on the relaxation response and practiced doing so regularly it reduced their stressRelating to injury or concern. levels a lot. His later research found that people had been doing this for centuries through prayer, chanting and rhythm.