It’s perhaps helpful to differentiate between physical, emotional and cognitive relaxation:
- Physical relaxation means that tension in the muscles reduces, blood pressure and heart rate decrease and breathing slows down.
- Emotional relaxation is a soothing feeling of wellbeing, inner peace and serenity
- Cognitive relaxation occurs when you get to grips with the thought processes that are fueling anxiety so you feel less stressed and more grounded.
Stress occurs when any one of these is off balance. Clearly, stress isn’t always a bad thing. It’s part of life. An athlete, for example, won’t achieve his or her goal in a state of physical relaxation and cognitive stress can also be a stimulant for some people and in some situations. But constant, daily stress is not healthy. It’s important to work out what combination of physical, emotional and cognitive relaxation works for you personally and to try and achieve that state more often.
- The Effects of Relaxation Before or After Skin Damage on Skin Barrier Recovery: A Preliminary Study, Robinson, Hayley MSc; Jarrett, Paul FRCP, FRACP; Broadbent, Elizabeth PhD, Psychosomatic Medicine: October 2015 Volume 77 Issue 8 p 844-852