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Relaxation & Self-Care

Do you need alone time or social interaction?

A variety of different relaxation techniques can help you bring your nervous system back into balance by
producing the relaxation response. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a
mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. Learning the basics of relaxation
techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to
20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to
an hour. If that sounds like a daunting commitment, remember that many of these techniques can be
incorporated into your existing daily schedule—practiced at your desk over lunch or on the bus during your
morning commute.

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique,
consider your specific needs, preferences, fitness level, and the way you tend to react to stress. The right
relaxation technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind and
interrupt your everyday thoughts in order to elicit the relaxation response. In many cases, you may find that
alternating or combining different techniques will keep you motivated and provide you with the best results.

How Do You React to Stress?

How you react to stress may influence the relaxation technique that works best for you.

Stress Response Symptoms Relaxation Technique
Overexcited You tend to become angry,
agitated, or keyed up under stress
You may respond best to relaxation techniques that quiet you down, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery
Under-excited You tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress You may respond best to relaxation techniques that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise
Frozen (both overexcited and under
excited at the same time – like
pressing on the brakes and gas
You tend to freeze: speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others Your challenge is to identify relaxation techniques that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system; techniques such as mindfulness walking or power yoga might work well for you
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Do You Need Alone Time or Social Stimulation?

If you crave solitude, solo relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation will
give you the space to quiet your mind and recharge your batteries. If you crave social interaction, a class
setting will give you the stimulation and support you’re looking for. Practicing with others may also help you
stay motivated.

Adapted from: Help Guide's mental health resources.


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