- 1. a. Partial (or complete) remission of some penalty, burden, duty, etc.; also, the document granting such remission.
- b. Sc. Law. Release from a judicial penalty, esp. from a sentence of outlawry.
- c. Release from captivity; restoration to freedom.
- 2. a. The action of unbending the mind from severe application; release from ordinary occupations or cares; recreation.
- b. Respite, rest. Const. of. Obs. rare1.
- 3. Path. A loosening or slackening of the fibres, nerves, joints, etc., of the body; diminution of firmness or tension.
- 4. a. Diminution of, release or freedom from, strictness or severity.
- b. Extension of meaning.
- 6. Engin. and Math. A method of solving a set of simultaneous equations (originally spec. ones describing the equilibrium of a rigid load-bearing structure) by guessing a solution and successively modifying it to accord with whichever equation or constraint is currently least closely satisfied. Freq. attrib.
- 7. Chiefly Physics. The gradual return of a system towards equilibrium; esp. the reduction of stress caused by gradual plastic deformation in material held at constant strain. Freq. attrib., as relaxation time, the time taken for a system to return to a state of equilibrium; spec. (in cases in which the process of return is exponential), the time taken for the deviation from equilibrium to be reduced by a factor e.
A relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxiety, stress or tension. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.
Since the 1960s, research has indicated strong correlations between chronic stress and physical and emotional health. Meditation was among the first relaxation techniques shown to have a measurable effect on stress reduction. In the 1970s, self-help books teaching relaxation techniques began to appear on bestsellers lists. In 1975, The Relaxation Response by Harvard Medical School professor Herbert Benson, MD and Miriam Z. Klipper was published. Their book has been credited with popularizing meditation in the United States.
Research released in the 1980s indicated stronger ties between stress and health and showed benefits from a wider range of relaxation techniques than had been previously known. This research received national media attention, including a New York Times article in 1986 Conventional medical philosophy adopted the concept and its early Twenty-first Century practitioners recommend using relaxation techniques to improve patient outcomes in many situations. Relaxation techniques are also a mainstay of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Various techniques are used by individuals to improve their state of relaxation. Some of the methods are performed alone, and some require the help of another person, often a trained professional; some involve movement, while some focus on stillness; and some methods involve other elements.
Certain relaxation techniques known as "formal and passive relaxation exercises" are generally performed while sitting or lying quietly, with minimal movement and involve "a degree of withdrawal". These include:
- Autogenic training
- Deep breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Yoga Nidra
Movement-based relaxation methods incorporate Exercise such as walking, gardening, yoga, Tai chi, Qigong, and more. Some forms of bodywork (alternative medicine) are helpful in promoting a state of increased relaxation. Examples include massage, acupuncture, the Feldenkrais method, Reflexology and self-regulation.
Some relaxation methods can also be used during other activities, for example, Autosuggestion and Prayer. At least one study has suggested that listening to certain types of music, particularly New Age music and classical music, can increase feelings associated with relaxation, such as peacefulness and a sense of ease. Some find humour to be helpful.
- Relaxation: surprising benefits detected by Daniel Goleman, The New York Times, May 13, 1986, retrieved May 23, 2006.
- Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, Wesley E. Sime (2007). Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition. p. 38. ISBN 159385000X.
- Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, Wesley E. Sime (2007). Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition. pp. 46–47. ISBN 159385000X.