Can I learn how to relax?

Learning how to relax can help you to manage stress and maybe even improve your physical health and blood pressure readings. Relaxation can offer a real potential to reduce physical strain and emotional, negative thoughts--and increase your ability to self-manage stress. Each of these has a positive effect on your heart and your hypertension.
Achieving relaxation uses a mental approach to activity in general rather than any one specific activity.  For each of us, many different activities or routines may be relaxing, depending on our particular mental attitude. And what may be relaxing for one person can be frustrating or tension-producing for another. For example, some of us may find it calming and soothing to lie quietly and listen to a certain type of music; others may gain more relaxation from reading an enjoyable book. Remember that true relaxation involves more than just being still or physical activity. You may not be relaxed just sitting in front of the TV. Some even have a high level of tension in their bodies and minds during sleep.  An example would be those who toss and turn at night or who grind their teeth while asleep.
Relaxation is a skill that all people have the potential to develop. Some of us are naturally better at relaxing than others, but we can all learn to relax effectively. Much like learning to play the piano or tennis, becoming good at relaxation involves time, patience, and practice.  Learning to relax deeply and effectively is a skill that develops gradually and cannot be rushed or hurried.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Dr. Mehmet Oz, Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, says to work on flexibility through yoga. Are you flexible enough? "Most Americans ought to be able to touch their fingertips to their toes," he says.

To start, Dr. Oz says to reach down to your toes. "So you lean over, relax yourself, and let these hips sort of release," he says. "All the energy goes away." Next, Dr. Oz says to go into the plank position, followed by upward dog, then downward dog. Lastly, bring your leg forward, and come up into the warrior position. "You can do the exact same thing for the other side," Dr. Oz says. "It's very soothing, and that meditation is very powerful."
Dr. Oz says there is something you can do for five minutes every day that can add years to your life: meditation. Just find a quiet place, even if it's the bathroom. "No one's going to bother you there," he says. "You can get five minutes of solace, of peace and quiet."

To start your meditation, Dr. Oz says to say the word "yum," drawing out the word out as you say it. "That vibration stimulates your sinuses to release nitric oxide, a very important gas that relaxes your lungs and relaxes your blood vessels," he says. "It's one of the reasons we think meditation may be so effective."

Dr. Oz says there are other ways to practice meditation as well. "Prayer is meditation," he says. "Just a few moments to yourself, not a lot, when no one can bother you to let it all slip away. It allows you to reboot your engine and get back on track."        
There is something lacking in the bedroom that Dr. Oz says is aging us at warp speed. "We're not sleeping. And sleeping is the fundamental way we reboot ourselves." Dr. Oz says the growth hormone, which is important for maintaining vitality and youthful vigor, is almost impossible to increase naturally without sleep. "Without the sleep that we know is so nourishing, we begin to dramatically age faster. It strips years off of our real age."

Wind down before falling asleep. "When you get in the bed, turn the lights down, do something that's soothing. Turn off the TV., Turn off the computer. Don't do things that jazz you back up again, and you will find yourself gently slipping into sleep."
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
You can definitely learn how to relax. The best way to start is to take one step at a time.  I would recommend starting with your breathing. When you find yourself getting stressed take a good deep breath in and then let it out. Breathe in for 4 counts hold it for 7 and let it out for a count of 8. If you do that three times you will find yourself calming down.

Next step come up with a simple exercise program. Choose something you can do easily.  It could be as simple as walking one block at a time. Something like yoga or Tai chi may be just the ticket to give you exercise and calm you down.

If you are one of those people who look at the cup as half empty, try and look at it as half full.

Find a relaxing focus.  It could be a good book or a funny movie.

Step away from the computer and phone and find a quiet place to just be.

Finally, Laugh loudly and often.

A good way to make relaxing a routine and important part of your day is to start a self-care log. Add something to your log daily. It can be something as simple as five minutes of deep breathing, a walk around your neighborhood, lunch with a friend, reading, etc. As you log these activities you will become more aware of the importance of taking time for your self and the value of self-care.

Continue Learning about Relaxation Therapy

What is autogenics?
Debra Fulghum Bruce PhDDebra Fulghum Bruce PhD
This method of “cuing” yourself to calm down and relax is easy to perform and can be done anywhere. ...
More Answers
What happens in my body when I am relaxed?
Dawn MarcusDawn Marcus
When you achieve deep relaxation, your: Breathing becomes slow, deep, and regular Heart rate slows...
More Answers
Got Adult ADHD? Try This Relaxation Technique
Got Adult ADHD? Try This Relaxation Technique
Soothe Stress With Laughter, Tea and Qi-Gong
Soothe Stress With Laughter, Tea and Qi-Gong

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.