Stress and the Relaxation Response

(sorry for the lack of article last week, the Fourth of July seems to have messed up my schedule)

Now that we know a whole lot about the science of stress, let’s talk about it’s antidote: The Relaxation Response (coined by Dr Herbert Benson in 1975). While some feel that this is just a fancy or mainstream-friendly term for meditation, it goes deeper than that. Benson’s own work describes the relaxation response as being something elicited by meditation, not the meditation itself. It seems to be the biochemical opposite of stress, a hypothalamic response which is consistent with a state of decreased sympathetic-nervous-system activity.

While most articles seem to fixate on one technique for prompting the relaxation response, there is no one single method that works for everyone. Some options include meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, physical activity, knitting, and playing a musical instrument; anything that breaks the train of everyday thought. There are even “mini-sessions” that can be done to relax in a hurry.

What are the techniques you have tried for breaking out of the stress reaction? How well have they worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

This article is part of a series on stress that posts (almost) every Wednesday.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Neha Mehra says:

    Stress is caused when you over think, when you feel depressed or when you are unhappy.What you wrote was a brilliant article but our world needs to stop sweating on small stuffs and simply start working on things that are in their hand.I am just 21 and i have gone through a lot of stress and my teacher took me out from it all because of meditation and dedication.When you are stressed, you have no control on your feelings nor your head and that’s when meditation plays an important role as it is very necessary.Meditation on the other hand needs effort and the results of it is just amazing.In my past i used to be an angry sad girl but now i am no more like that so whatever you discussed in this article, i have experienced that.It feels great to be positive and happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.