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Relaxation therapy can help people combat stress, both physical and psychological. Reduced levels of stress can lead to improved confidence as well as a greater appreciation of life in general. Relaxation therapy can also contribute to healing processes and encourage more efficient reactions to challenges.
Stress exists for a reason: It encourages quick reactions, the so-called "flight or fight" response, in emergency situations. When standing in front of a hungry lion, this response makes sense. When standing in front of a potential employer in an interview, it does not. The trouble is when people fail to emotionally distinguish between true emergencies and imagined ones.
Not coping successfully with stress can weigh a person down. Responding to most challenges in life with stress can draw one into a downward spiral that leads only to more feelings of anxiety, helplessness and dissatisfaction. Relaxation therapy aims to do the opposite — that is, to establish an upward spiral. People who regularly employ ways to trigger their minds and bodies to relax are less likely to become stressed when they encounter dangers and challenges. Also, when they do feel the stress response kicking in, they have at their disposal well practiced strategies to reduce it.
While frequent stress causes damaging tension in both the body and the mind, relaxation therapy can improve health in many ways and also support the healing of injuries. When the body is in a relaxed state, a person tends to breathe more deeply and in so doing, delivers a better and more regulated supply of oxygen to the body and brain.
Muscles are also saved from strain, including cardiac muscles. The heart rate is slower when a person feels relaxed and blood pressure is lowered. Additionally, stress-induced hormones might promote quick reactions, but they can also discourage careful planning. Relaxation therapy can help the mind to perceive available options more clearly and to construct solutions more efficiently.
People suffering from stress on a daily basis might feel, often due more to the stress itself than to any other factor, that they simply don't have time for relaxation therapy. A person relaxes in response to certain stimulus, and such stimulus can be attained both from external sources as well as from a concentrated effort of the mind. While some relaxation techniques do require an exclusive time commitment, many can be incorporated into one's daily activities. Commonly applied relaxation techniques include meditation; deep breathing exercises; muscle stretching; massage; and sensual response therapies, such as visual, auditory, or aroma therapy.