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The science behind relaxing

anna.serlachius, Kommentit: 0
Relaxation techniques are a burgeoning field of study. Increasing evidence points to their effectiveness for managing stress, for improving health and immune function, and for improving productivity at work.

Relaxation techniques include more formal techniques such as meditation, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation which are often performed with the aim of producing a relaxed state. However many less structured daily activities such as physical exercise, social activities, as well as hobbies like gardening or even playing chess can produce the relaxation response.


Why do relaxation techniques work? Because they counter the effects of stress. Effects like rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. As well as these immediate benefits, recent studies have also discovered that certain relaxation techniques can have structural long-term changes on the brain. For example MRI studies have shown that people with extensive experience in meditation have increased grey matter density in the brain. Increased grey matter is important, as grey matter is found in the brain regions involved in the processing of emotions, memory, and other high level cognitive processes.


Lastly, these techniques are an essential aspect for improving productivity and well-being at work. Employees who engage in relaxation techniques such as exercise on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from burnout or other mental health problems. Organizations are discovering that encouraging activities like mindfulness or yoga during work breaks can significantly improve productivity, improve employee health, and reduce absenteeism.


So what are the key ingredients to finding a relaxation technique that works for you?


1.      Choose something that you find pleasure in. Relaxation exercises are individual, and you will only stick with the ones that you enjoy.

2.      Practice on a daily basis. Even 10 minutes of meditation a day can have profound effects on biological markers such as blood pressure.

3.      Join a group relaxation activity to guide and motivate you, for example tai-chi or yoga.

4.      Prioritize relaxation. We are least likely to use these techniques when we are busy or stressed, but that is when we need them the most.




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