Stress-related Disorders/Relaxation Response

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A Technique for Promoting the Relaxation Response


  1. Basic elements
    • A quiet environment
    • A comfortable posture
    • A mental device
      • A mental device (a meaningful word or phrase)
    • A passive attitude
  2. Instructions
    • In a quiet environment
      • In a quiet environment, sit in a comfortable position.
  3. Close your eyes
    • Deeply relax all your muscles
      • Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face (i.e., feet, calves, thighs, lower torso, chest, shoulders, neck, hand). Allow them to remain relaxed.
    • Breathe through your nose
      • Become aware of your breathing. While breathing out, say silently to yourself the word "one" ("won") or some other word or short phrase that is meaningful to you (i.e., breathe in; breathe out, saying "won"; breathe in; breathe out, saying "won").
    • Continue this way for 20 minutes
      • You may open your eyes periodically to check the time, but do not use an alarm. Do this once or twice daily and not within 2 hours after any meal.
    • When you finish each 20-minute exercise
      • When you finish each 20-minute exercise, sit quietly for a few minutes, first with your eyes shut and then with them open.
    • The goal is a passive attitude
      • Deep relaxation will not always occur, and distracting thoughts will come into your mind. When you become conscious of them, ignore them and sustain the breathing exercise.

Source[edit]

Adapted from Benson H. The Relaxation Response. New York: Morrow, 1975; and Benson H, Beary JF, Carol MP. The relaxation response. Psychiatry 37:37-46, 1974.