What is relaxation?

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Relaxation is a skill you can learn and improve on with practice. Just like playing the guitar or baseball, the more you practice, the better you get. When you are relaxed, your body is limp and your muscles are loose. If you are sitting in a chair or lying in bed, you might feel your body sink as you let go of your tension. You will also notice your breathing become slow and deep.

Why it is important to learn to relax

Learning how to relax can help you in many ways. You might be surprised at how learning such a simple skill can have so many benefits.

Relaxation can:

  • help reduce the effects of stress on your body, like anxiety and tension
  • help manage pain by changing pain messages
  • give you more energy
  • make you feel more alert and in control
  • help you think more clearly, concentrate and remember things better
  • help you sleep better at night
  • help you enjoy things more.

Cool facts about relaxation

Research has shown that relaxation can be more effective than medication in reducing pain for headaches.

Even if you have not done relaxation in the way that you will learn in this program, you probably have relaxed in other ways. For example, if you lie on your bed and listen to music, you are relaxing. Or maybe you take a hot bath to relax. There are many activities we do that help us relax. What are some of the things you do to relax?

General tips for learning how to relax

  • Use your favourite, most comfortable chair or couch to practice the relaxation strategies​ you are about to learn.
  • Don’t use your bed the first time you try out these relaxation strategies because you might fall asleep. Later on you can use these strategies to help you fall asleep faster.
  • Practice these exercises in a quiet place. You might need to put a sign up saying “Do Not Disturb – Relaxation in Progress.”
  • Keep your legs and arms uncrossed. This will help your blood move through your body more easily.
  • Practice these techniques every day to relieve stress. Use them at times when you are starting to feel pain or tension. Set a goal for how many times per week you will practice.
  • Try to do the relaxation exercises at the same time each day.
  • The more you practice, the better these techniques will work.
Last updated: January 31st 2017