Relaxation Techniques for Health | NCCIH
Relaxation techniques don’t just help you deal with everyday (or holiday) stress; they may be helpful in managing a variety of health conditions, including anxiety associated with illnesses or medical procedures, insomnia, labor pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (also known as jaw pain or TMJ). Psychological therapies, which may include relaxation techniques, can help manage chronic headaches and other types of chronic pain in children and adolescents. They may also counteract the ill effects of stress.
Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention on pleasing thoughts and images to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are:
- Autogenic training, in which you learn to concentrate on the physical sensations of warmth, heaviness, and relaxation in different parts of your body
- Biofeedback techniques, which measure your body functions, such as muscle tension, then give you information about them so that you can learn to control them
- Deep breathing or breathing exercises, which involve focusing on taking slow, deep, even breaths
- Guided imagery, which involves focusing on pleasant images to replace negative or stressful feelings. Guided imagery may be self-directed or led by a practitioner or a recording
- Progressive relaxation, which involves tightening and relaxing various muscle groups. It’s often combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises.
Relaxation techniques are skills, and like other skills, they require practice. People who use relaxation techniques frequently are more likely to benefit from them. Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people, although there have been a few reports of negative experiences such as increased anxiety. People with serious physical or mental health problems should discuss relaxation techniques before using them with their health care providers.