What are relaxation techniques?
Relaxation techniques are practices to help bring about the body’s “relaxation response,” which is characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a reduced heart rate. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response.

Some of the studies discussed in this fact sheet compare relaxation techniques to cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychological treatment that helps a person become aware of ways of thinking that may be automatic but are inaccurate and harmful. The therapy involves efforts to change thinking patterns and usually behavioral patterns as well.

The article below provides a comprehensive overview to relaxation techniques and the relevant research.


The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) thanks David Shurtleff, Ph.D., and Peter Murray, Ph.D., NCCIH, for their review of the 2021 update of this publication. (See website.)

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: June 2021


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