Relaxation therapy is a process that focuses on using a combination of breathing and muscle relaxation in order to deal with stress. The use of various techniques within this process can come in handy when dealing with daily stress or working through unanticipated situations that produce a great deal of physical and emotional tension. While the essentials of relaxing therapy can be employed without the presence of a health professional, it is often a good idea to learn the basics with a trained practitioner.
Muscle relaxation therapy involves learning how stressful circumstances can cause the body’s autonomic nervous system to activate. When some type of emotional or physical stimulation connected with stress occurs, this system will kick into action. The result is that the heart begins to beat faster, breathing becomes more rapid, and blood vessels around the body begin to dilate. While a reaction of this type is beneficial when there is a need to defend the body from some type of adversary.
By employing relaxation therapy, it is possible to begin reversing the stimulation to the nervous system and restore the body and mind to a more balanced state. The key to the therapy is consciously regulating the breathing. This means becoming aware of the current rate of the inhalation and exhalation phases of the breathing process and making a conscious effort to incrementally slow them down to a more equitable pace. As the individual is able to slow the breathing rate, this also has a calming effect on the rapid heart beat and helps to lessen the urge of “flight or fight.”
Relaxation therapy may include other elements along with the controlled breathing. Seeking a quiet spot to initiate the process can also help expedite the achievement of a calm state. For some people the use of aromatherapy in conjunction with relaxation therapy techniques is also helpful. Music or relaxation tapes of nature sounds like a waterfall may also help enhance the effect of the therapy.
Before engaging any type of relaxation therapy system on your own, it is a good idea to work with an individual with some type of relaxation therapy training. Doing so will help you master the basic patterns of breathing that you want to achieve during the therapy, as well as help you discover what other components tend to be most helpful in your particular situation. Once you have gained confidence in your ability to utilize relaxation therapy, you can employ the strategy any time that you feel your stress level rising.