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The Mind-body Connection to Improve Health & Wellness

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Relaxation techniques are important to master if you want to reduce & manage stress and improve your quality of life. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress not only on the mind, but also on the body.

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to our daily life experiences. Stress can be beneficial to our health in the short-term because it can help when dealing with serious situations by releasing hormones that increase heart and breathing rates activating our bodies to respond in a flight or fight situation. But, when stress becomes chronic, it is best to have coping mechanisms. Chronic stress can negatively affect health and cause a variety of symptoms. Stressors have a major influence on our mood, our well-being, and behaviour.

Effects of stress on the body:

  • headaches

  • muscle tension and/or pain

  • chest pain

  • fatigue

  • change in sex drive

  • stomach upset

  • insomnia Effects of stress on mood:

  • irritability/anger

  • sadness/depression

  • anxiety

  • restlessness

  • lack of focus/motivation

  • feeling overwhelmed Effects of stress on behaviour:

  • change in eating habits

  • outbursts

  • drug/alcohol abuse

  • tobacco use

  • social withdrawal

  • lack of exercise/sedentary The practice of relaxation can have multiple benefits:

  • slowing heart rate

  • lowering blood pressure

  • slowing your breathing rate

  • improving digestion

  • maintaining normal blood sugar levels

  • reducing activity of stress hormones

  • increasing blood flow to major muscles

  • reducing muscle tension and chronic pain

  • improving concentration and mood

  • improving sleep quality

  • lowering fatigue

  • reducing anger and frustration

  • boosting confidence to handle problems Types of relaxation techniques include:

  • autogenic relaxation: you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. Repeat words/suggestions in your mind to help relax and reduce muscle tension.

  • progressive muscle relaxation: you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group to help you become more aware of physical tensions.

  • visualization: you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful & calming place/situation. This can include smell, sight, sound, and touch. Other relaxation techniques may include:

  • deep breathing

  • massage therapy

  • meditation

  • tai chi

  • yoga

  • biofeedback

  • music/art therapy

  • aromatherapy

  • hydrotherapy

Remember, becoming proficient in relaxing takes time, but as you become more self-aware of your tension, you can make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique to prevent stress from spiraling out of control. Try different relaxation techniques to see which one works for you. If you feel your efforts to reducing stress are not working, please speak to your doctor.



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