How Relaxation Benefits Your Health
The many different forms and techniques of relaxation are well known to have stress reduction effects. In previous shareposts I've discussed various associated techniques such as relaxed breathing, meditation and positive thinking. All these are great ways to reduce anxiety. What is less well known are the many other positive effects of relaxation that ward off disease and help to maintain health.
In referring to relaxation, I don't mean reading a book or sitting in front of the television. This is about a skill that needs to be acquired, developed and maintained in order to derive maximum benefit. Properly applied, relaxation decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, lowers blood pressure and reduces heart and breathing rates.
Regular relaxation is beneficial for the immune system. The relationship between mental states and the immune system is something Janice Keicolt-Glaser has investigated for several years. In one study elderly residents in a retirement home were taught relaxation. After just one month levels of natural killer cells and antibody levels increased.
Relaxation also appears to have a natural beta-blocking on the heart. This makes it particularly interesting for people involved in cardiac rehabilitation. Regular relaxation reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and actually improves blood flow to the heart.
Relief from pain is one of the more significant benefits to derive from relaxation. Various studies have shown that relaxation can lead to reductions in pain medication for chronic back pain, migraine or even pain from diseases such as cancer.
The basic skills of relaxation are not difficult to learn. It may however be easier to learn the skills from a properly qualified teacher rather than something like an audio tape. Relaxation is an entirely natural process that has no side effects. Considering the health benefits that may be derived from as little as 15 minutes a day, the case for integrating relaxation into your life is compelling.