Stress is part of the human experience, and in certain circumstances it can provide extra motivation or help us out of high-risk situations by temporarily increasing awareness and improving physical performance. However, chronic stress has been linked to a myriad of physical illnesses and has a negative impact on mood and mental health.
- 43% of adults experienced adverse health effects from stress
- 75-90% of visits to a physician's office are for stress-related conditions and complaints
- Stress has been linked to the 6 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide
Developing the ability to relax is essential to effectively mitigating the impacts of stress and anxiety.
Developing your Relaxation Response
The "relaxation response" is your body's ability to experience a decrease in heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and oxygen consumption. Learning to relax is a skill that requires time and practice. Benefits include a reduction of stress, lowered anxiety and burnout, increased energy, improved concentration, a stronger immune system, and increased self-confidence.
There are a wide range of relaxation techniques to choose from. Explore a few to figure out works best for you. By taking a class or joining a group, you will learn from people who are more practiced at the skill, while also receiving support, guidance, and a social interaction. If you a’re short on time, think about learning a breathing technique that you can practice anywhere, anytime, as you go about your day. Or, dedicate a few minutes each day to find a quiet space, close your eyes, and relax. There are a multitude of online resources and apps that make it easy to practice breathing, guided relaxation exercises, and meditation on your own. The links below will get you started.
- Breathing exercises read by Amir Hall '17 at bottom of page
- Breathing exercises and guided meditations
- Virtual meditation rooms
- Relaxation, meditation, and stress reduction apps
- iPhone Apps
- Android Apps