The Relaxation Response

I probably don’t tell have to tell you that the body has a stress response. (I mean, look at these years we’ve been living!) Stress causes adrenaline and cortisol, the tightening of muscles, and at times, the initiation of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses.

But we can also have a relaxation response. In the relaxation response, the activated sympathetic nervous system is calmed by the parasympathetic nervous system. What helps this? Intentional, deep breathing, stretching, meditation, mindfulness, touch, bilateral movement (walking is one), somatic processes like the body scan, cuddling, and generally slowing down — again — intentional, deep breathing (after all, this helps us slow down).

But here’s the thing:

The stress response is innate and automatic, and the relaxation response has to be learned. The body needs practice in order for this to happen naturally on its own.

All of these are worthy practice. Very worth our time.

Renee Roederer

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