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The Relaxation Response How to cope with Stress

The Relaxation Response is a state of physiological relaxed alertness.

According to Herbert Benson, who investigated this concept during the 1970’s, this state is quite the opposite to how we react when we are stressed…

Read more about what happens to your body when the Stress Response is induced… Click Here

stressed woman

Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes, among other debilitating mental and emotional conditions… definitely a condition we want to avoid!

Benson says that inducing the relaxation response, for as little as 20 minutes twice a day, can protect us from many of these ill-effects.

It is becoming more and more difficult to feel “unstressed” about our world and the life that we try to live…

Economic hardships are hitting many of us!

And Worries are many!

Relationships suffer under stress!

Health deteriorates! And we forget to be grateful for what we do have…

But chronic worry, anxiety and stress stop us from thinking clearly and being clear minded about what action to take.

Give yourself 20 minutes a day as an antidote to panic…It costs nothing and may just save your life!

How To…

Benson’s suggestion for inducing the relaxation response is to break the chain of your everyday, habitual thoughts by using repetition

Repeat a sound or word or phrase or even a movement such as swimming or jogging. During the 20 minute exercise, gently guide yourself back to your phrase or activity when any other thoughts come into your mind.

He also says that it is essential not to strive for any end result…just be passive!relaxation response practice

I like his method!

You can adapt it to suit your preference – use a mantra, a word that you like the sound of, a scripture from your holy texts, a saying that you have memorized…

relaxation meditation
Here is his simple technique for inducing the Relaxation Response

  1. Choose a focus word, short phrase or prayer
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Do a Body Scan and check for tension. Relax your muscles, all the way from your feet to your head and shoulders.
  5. Breathe slowly and naturally. And as you exhale say your focus word, sound phrase, or prayer silently to yourself.
  6. Remain passive! When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, “Oh Well” and gently return to your repetition exercise. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing.
  7. Do this exercise for 10 – 20 minutes.
  8. Do not stand up right away when done. Continue to sit quietly for a few moments and let your normal thoughts return.
  9. Open your eyes and give yourself a few more minutes before standing up.

Do this exercise only once or twice a day.

Good times are before breakfast or in the evening after a challenging day.

I promise you that you will feel refreshed and relaxed. I suggest this for clients and friends who want to start a meditation practice but are not quite sure how to go about it or what to do with their minds.


relaxed woman

Not only do you feel good directly after the exercise – you also experience long term benefits from inducing the relaxation response! What are those benefits?…Let me share with you a statement from Victor Frankl

He says…

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”

In other words, if we can choose how we respond to stress stimuli, instead of reacting with panic and anxiety, we can use it as a growth experience.

By the mindful practice of inducing the relaxation response, we can be in charge of our response to stress rather than let it act on us!

All types of Mindfulness Meditations are extremely useful in training us to become aware of our attitudes and responses to the stresses and strains of life.

And they are fun to do!

Click here to find out more about Mindful Eating as a meditation.

Mindful Walking exercise is also an excellent and interesting way to induce the relaxation response and develop an attitude of awareness.


• The relaxation response induces a relaxed alertness. This is physiologically very different to sleep or just putting your feet up.

• The physiological state is opposite to the potentially harmful fight or flight response.

• Inducing it, for just 20 minutes twice a day, can protect you from the harmful effects of stress.



You have nothing to loose – except 10 – 20 minutes of your day…

AND you have a whole lot to gain – a very real antidote to your normal reactions to stress!

Further Reading: “The Relaxation Response” By Herbert Benson. Published by Harper Torch

Go from Relaxation Response to Relaxation Techniques
Go to Benefits of Meditation


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