And here we are, the end of another 4 day week! I hope you’ve all profited yesterday in some way? Maybe you’re enjoying a long weekend or just enjoyed the day pottering or catching up with family and friends.
I thought you’d like to know more about the benefits to our bodies when relaxing…it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of busyness so I have included a simple relaxation tip too!
Firstly, what Is the Relaxation Response?
It’s one name for what happens when your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of your body functions. This part of your nervous system regulates the work of your organs and glands while you’re at rest. Your relaxation response kicks in when you feel safe. It can actually block effects from your body’s response to stress. These changes are good for your mental and physical health.
Heart Rate Slows
Stress triggers activity in your sympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of your body functions in dangerous situations. This “fight or flight” response sends out hormones called catecholamines to speed up your heart. But relaxation lets your body know it’s OK to save energy. Your parasympathetic system takes over and releases a hormone called acetylcholine. That slows your heart rate down.
Blood Pressure Goes Down
Stress hormones can speed up your heart rate and tighten your blood vessels. That temporarily raises your blood pressure. The opposite happens when you relax. If you have high blood pressure, relaxation methods like meditation may help you manage stress and lower your chances of heart disease. (But don’t stop taking your medicine unless your doctor says it’s OK.)
Digestion Gets Better
When stress causes the “fight or flight” reaction, your digestion gets put on hold as blood moves toward your larger muscles. Relaxation reverses this process. It also lowers inflammation that can hurt your gut. Stress plays a role in many digestive problems, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Calming techniques like deep breathing or meditation might help with your symptoms.
The Body Hurts Less
Relaxation doesn’t get rid of your aches, but it can turn down the volume a little. Relaxed muscles hurt less. And relaxation prompts your brain to release endorphins, chemicals that act as natural painkillers. Studies show relaxation techniques like meditation can lessen pain from conditions like fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic pelvic pain, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Sometimes, you might be unable to doze off even when you’re worn out. This “tired but wired” state is a sign you’re still in “fight or flight” mode. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing can help switch on your relaxation response. They’re sometimes used as a treatment for insomnia.
Your body stiffens when you feel threatened, Usually, muscle tension eases when you calm down. But long-lasting stress can lead to tense muscles nearly all the time.
Immune System Works Better
Long-lasting stress makes it harder for your body to fight off infections. But deep relaxation can help your immune system recover. You can get there with the help of techniques like progressive muscle relaxation. That’s where you tense, then relax, each muscle group one by one. It’s even more important to manage your worries as you age. Your immune function naturally declines over time.
How to Relax
Some people unwind while they garden, cook, or read. Or you can explore techniques like:
Progressive muscle relaxation
It’s’s not always possible to do the above, so I have added a technique called the Benson Method.
This technique was created by Herbert Benson, MD, the heart doctor who first described the relaxation response.
Here’s what you do:
Sit down, making sure you’re comfortable.Close your eyes.
Gradually relax all of your muscles, starting at your feet and working your way up.
Breathe through your nose.
Pay attention to your breath.Do this for about 20 minutes.
Then sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes.
However you choose to relax I hope you find a takeaway from this today 💜