Lower Your Stress Levels – and Blood Pressure – With the Relaxation Response

Even though the holiday season is behind us, everyday stressors still remain.  For most of us, stress never really takes a break, so it’s important to incorporate stress reduction techniques into our everyday routines.  An easy and effective way to do so is to practice the Relaxation Response – think of it as the exact opposite of the Stress Response – once or twice a day.  The Relaxation Response has been shown to counteract the negative effects of the sympathetic nervous system that take hold during prolonged stress, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.  In fact, when practiced on a regular basis, the Relaxation Response can decrease systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number) by 10 points! 

The Relaxation Response is easy to perform and can be done at your desk, in your car (as long as it’s parked), at home, or anywhere else the need arises.  Follow these simple steps to achieve stress reduction in just a few minutes:

  1. Select a positive word, short phrase, or prayer on which to focus.
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position, relax your muscles, and close your eyes.
  3. Breathe slowly through your nose, silently saying your focus word to yourself as you exhale.
  4. Do this for 10 minutes (or for as much time as you have).
  5. Sit quietly for a minute or so, clear your mind, then open your eyes.
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