NCCAM Clinical Digest: Stress and Relaxation Techniques

December 19, 2012

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Stress and Relaxation Techniques

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life. Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Some people use various relaxation techniques to induce the relaxation response, which helps release tension and may counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing exercises and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are autogenic training, biofeedback, deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and self-hypnosis.

This issue provides information on "what the science says" about relaxation techniques for several stress-related disorders, including anxiety, depression, headaches, asthma, heart disease and heart symptoms, high blood pressure, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome.

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