Patient Perspective

Relaxation Techniques

Article Summary

Relaxation is an important part of overall health because it reduces the negative impacts of stress and improves self-confidence. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization are some of the techniques used to increase relaxation. Read more for tips about how to implement these relaxation techniques in your day to day.


Relaxation reduces stress by:

  • Decreasing heart rate
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Slowing respiratory rate
  • Increasing blood flow to the major muscle groups
  • Decreasing muscle tension
  • Improving concentration
  • Improving self confidence

Types of Relaxation Techniques

  • Meditation: Focusing the mind on a word or phrase and letting go of other thoughts.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Focus on slowly tensing then relaxing each muscle group.
  • Visualization: Visualize yourself in a peaceful, relaxing place.
  • Other relaxation techniques include hypnosis, massage, deep breathing, positive affirmations, mantras, aromatherapy, tai chi, yoga, art or other creative endeavors.


  • Relaxation takes practice! Even if you aren’t conscious of feeling anything, the physiologic effects are still occurring.
  • Each technique does not work for everyone. You may have to try several techniques before you find the best one for you.
  • Don’t force yourself to relax; let it happen naturally.
  • Make yourself comfortable. Position yourself on chair with neck and back support, a firm bed, or a comfortable mat on the floor. Choose a position that you can maintain for at least 10 minutes.
  • Relax in a quiet environment that is distraction-free.
  • Relax periodically throughout the day. There are many apps that will remind you to meditate at intervals. Some (e.g. Insight Timer) will also show you how many other people are meditating at the same time, which can be motivating and make you feel part of a community.
  • Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about how much longer you have to meditate.
  • Meditation is becoming mainstream. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about your meditation practice with friends and coworkers. The more open you are about it, the easier it will be to incorporate it into your life. You may even find that others have a meditation practice as well, or want to cultivate one.
  • Seek out a group that you can meditate with. There are many local meditation groups that can be found through
  • Take a yoga or Tai chi class. Many studios offer “low-impact” classes or classes for people with balance problems (e.g. seniors, MS patients).


Author: Lisa Farrell, PT, PhD, ATC