For many of us, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. At AIS we are often asked, “What is the best way to relive my stress and relax?” Our typical answer includes an explanation that just as the definition of stress is different for everyone, so are “the best” stress reduction techniques. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. AIS endorses several breathing techniques and even a few tools that can be useful for progression in mastering your breathing, reconnecting your body and mind and stopping the stress response. Learning the basics of these breathing techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. The American Institute of Stress is a non-profit 501(c) 3 corporation established in 1979 pursuant to section 405 of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. STRESS RELEASE MADE FUN AND EASY! Open yourself to increased health and joy using this soothing, guided-relaxation CD with accompanying cartoon book – because laughter is also strong medicine! Psychotherapist Allan Hirsh guides you through deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to re-program your stress response. Humor and a snack helps with the negativity and hunger, but sometimes our bodies just need to rest and unwind.
In a short period of time, you will find yourself automatically relaxing parts of your body without even giving it much thought. You may want to follow the instructions on the CD first, or read the guide on relaxation and stress management instead. However, there is one “Super Stress Buster” that evokes the relaxation response that we widely recommend as useful for everyone- even kids. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.

Quieting Response– utilizes visualization and deep breathing (a powerful combination) to stop an acute stress response in its tracks. Sudarshan Kriya or SKY– incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath which harmonize the body, mind and emotions. This one is for kids—Teddy Bear Breathing– Lie on your back, place one hand on your chest and place your favorite teddy bear on your belly button.
AIS stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, try focusing your attention on your body. These techniques can relax you so much that they can make you very sleepy, especially if it’s close to bedtime. At that point, coping becomes difficult and we are more likely to over react and make ourselves more miserable. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.
This unique breathing technique eliminates stress, fatigue and negative emotions such as anger, frustration and depression, leaving you calm yet energized, focused yet relaxed.
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. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way. If you’re resistance training, for example, focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements and pay attention to how your body feels as you raise and lower the weights. By following the instructions on the CD, you will gradually become more aware of the muscles of your body, and your ability to release tension.

My neck muscles would tighten up during the course of the day, and I didn't know what to do about it. Learning to cope with stress is often a trial and error process, Sometimes you will find that laughter will lighten your mood best. The “Relaxation Response” was discovered and coined by AIS Founding Trustee and Fellow, Dr. Mindfulness walking can be done while exercising your dog, walking to your car, or climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator. All we need to do is open ourselves to the feeling, just as effortlessly as a cat beginning to purr. This is a powerful muscle release in the places where most people hold their muscles tense.
Once you’ve learned techniques such as tai chi or yoga, you can practice them in your office or in the park at lunchtime. Absolutely do not practice any relaxation technique that might make you drowsy while driving. As you take a deep breath in, visualize hot air flowing through these holes moving slowly up your legs, through your abdomen and filling your lungs. When you exhale reverse the visualization so you “see” hot air coming out the same holes in your feet.

Human nature mind and body
Techniques on calming the mind

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