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What are the Different Types of Relaxation Techniques?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Relaxation techniques to help people with issues like sleep disorders and stress run the gamut from guided imagery to acupuncture. Some patients may need to try several techniques to find one that works for them, and it is advisable to try each technique several times before giving up on it, as initial unfamiliarity can be a barrier to relaxation. A mental health professional, general practitioner, or alternative medical provider can help a patient find effective relaxation techniques. These techniques can assist with anger management, control in stressful environments, and mental health treatment.

Some relaxation techniques involve exercises patients can do independently at home or in other locations. This can include meditation, breathing exercises, gentle exercise like yoga and tai chi, or visualization. People can learn these techniques from a coach or instructional materials like a booklet or video. They require the ability to devote some time every day to relaxation and people usually need a quiet environment, something that may not always be possible, especially for people who are very busy or who have large families.

In the heat of the moment, techniques like using a stress ball, quickly closing the eyes to visualize something calming, or deep breathing can be highly beneficial. These relaxation techniques are often designed to accompany a more extensive program at home, allowing people under stress to reach for the sense of calm they experience while meditating, doing yoga, or engaging in similar activities.

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Guided techniques facilitated by another person may involve things like energy work, acupuncture, or massage. These relaxation techniques are administered by someone with special training to help people relax, and may be done on a regular basis or as needed. Patients who use these techniques may also have a practice they use at home to extend the time between sessions. Biofeedback and other therapies rooted in psychological practice like autogenic training may also be used to help a patient with stress.

Some relaxation techniques can feel awkward at first, especially if a person is not familiar with the general concept. People may find it hard to focus and might giggle or feel disorientated initially. If people persist through the initial discomfort, they may find relaxation techniques highly beneficial. Not all techniques work for everyone; people who feel physically uncomfortable doing yoga even after trying several styles, for example, may want to explore alternatives, as it will be hard to relax when they are in a constant state of tension.

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