October 4, 2016

The Relaxation Response

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:43 am by kellyfdennis

thumbs-up-kellyI do a lot of helping my clients (and myself) to learn how to counteract the effects of the stressful environment in which we live. I talk about and teach deep breathing, mindfulness, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, just to name a few. I think this is an important part of therapy because most of us are in a chronic state of hyper arousal. That is, our “fight or flight” response is being activated on a regular basis. According to Walther Cannon, MD, the fight or flight response is a “quick neurological response to a perceived threat that stimulates defensive behavior.” So, back in the day when man was confronted with a saber-toothed tiger, his fight or flight response kicked in  so he could run like the wind and get away from the tiger. Whew! It saved his life! But in modern day, most of our saber-toothed tigers come in the form of traffic jams, conflicts with spouses or children, or insufficient funds in our checking account. So we really can’t “fight or flee”, we just need to deal. However, the fight or flight response is automatic and unlearned, so sometimes it happens even when we don’t need it. It activates our negative internal dialogue and triggers the release of stress chemicals in our bodies.

The relaxation response, on the other hand, is a learned response that is stress relieving, quiets our negative internal dialogue, and helps us to cultivate an attitude of acceptance and positivity. According to Herbert Benson MD, the relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes our physical and emotional responses to stress. This means that if we consciously practice deep breathing, mindfulness, guided imagery, mediation and other relaxation techniques, we can reduce the amount of time we spend in the fight or flight response.

This sounds like a very good idea to me! I have uploaded various relaxation and mindfulness tools and techniques on my YouTube Channel. I hope you’ll check it out and benefit from stress relieving positivity!

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