Relaxation - The Learned Response
The human body is miraculous, but it is not perfect. An ‘improved model’ would include a mechanism to ensure that relaxation occurs automatically, because while the stress response occurs whenever necessary, there is no equivalent physiological or psychological response to induce relaxation. This lack of an in-built response means that relaxation must be learnt. Relaxation techniques are vital components of nursing practice. They help reduce specific symptom distress and increase patients’ confidence and sense of control. They are cost-effective, simple, and easy to teach and learn. Most importantly, assisting a patient to relax does not have to be time consuming, it can be achieved in a matter of moments. However, success is dependent on both patients and nurses. Patients need to practice relaxation techniques regularly and nurses need to be able to teach them effectively. There are other important considerations about using relaxation therapies in nursing and midwifery practice. Nurses and midwives who wish to incorporate relaxation techniques in the treatment of their patients must recognise the importance of their own experience of relaxation. Real insight into the benefits and difficulties of relaxation can only be gained through personal experience. This chapter reminds readers that, unlike the stress response, relaxation does not happen automatically. The link between the mind and the body, and psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) research that now provides theoretical support for the use of various complementary therapies are discussed. The findings about PNI and the relationship between stress, relaxation, the mind, and the feeling state is clarified and simple exercises in relaxation, guided imagery and meditation are included to enable the reader to experience these states.
- stress and relaxation
- relaxation: the learned response
- relaxation: the physiological effects
- relaxation techniques
- teaching meditation.