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The Relaxation Response. Mind Tools.

Posted Oct 25 2008 4:58pm
Here is a portion of a great article by Kellie Fowler at

“The Relaxation Response,” by Dr. Herbert Benson, ...teaches the importance of relaxing each day, and even how to do it.

Based on studies at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Benson’s quick and easy relaxation techniques have immense physical benefits, from lowering blood pressure to a reduction in heart disease. The book explains how anyone can benefit from learning and perfecting relaxation techniques. In doing so, Dr. Benson created a book that is relied on by healthcare professionals and authorities to treat the negative effects of stress.

By learning to invoke the relaxation response once or twice a day for just ten minutes at a sitting, one can effectively lower blood pressure and gain tranquility in their emotional life, making them more successful both in the workplace and at home.

Try the following 6-step relaxation response the next time you feel anxiety or stress:

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes.

Deeply relax all of your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep your muscles relaxed.

Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out (exhale), say the word, “ONE”, silently to yourself. For example: breathe IN…OUT, “ONE”, -IN…OUT, “ONE”, etc. Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on your schedule). You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed, then with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.

Do not worry about if you are successful in achieving a deep state of relaxation. When distracted, simply return to repeating “ONE.”

Besides relying on this technique a few times each day, I regularly use it to get to sleep at night, especially after a long, hard day or before a tough next day. It’s simple, fast, reliable and most importantly, it works!
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