What is Relaxation, Anyway?
Relaxation refers to those techniques that enable the body and brain to achieve a state of restfulness without entering a state of sleep.
Research has shown that relaxation techniques can suppress the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the involuntary nervous system that orchestrates the 'fight or flight' response.
They can also increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the involuntary nervous system that slows the function of the body and brain.
Many activities we find relaxing aren't considered relaxation in the strict sense of the word.
Watching television, reading a book and having a nap are relaxing.
But they aren't relaxation.
Instead there are a wide variety of relaxation techniques:
- Those that involve movement (tai chi and yoga)
- Mental techniques (imagery, autogenic training, self-hypnosis and meditation)
- Techniques involving physical control (progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback).