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Reduce Stress with the Relaxation Response

April 4, 2011

Today’s inspiration to work relaxation into your daily life: Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Deaconess Medical Center found that practicing a simple form of meditation known as “the relaxation response” may protect your genes from the harmful effects of stress, including heart disease, obesity, sleep problems and more.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Herbert Benson studied meditation as an internal mechanism to counterbalance the brain’s innate fight-or-flight response. He coined this deep rest “the relaxation response,” and found that it could reduce the heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, and rate of breathing. Over time, this has lasting effects on the way your body reacts to stress. The best news of all? You don’t have to be a lifelong practitioner to reap the benefits; participants in the Mass General Hospital study saw improvements after just eight weeks.

It’s suggested that you practice this particular type of meditation for more than 10 minutes but less than 20 minutes a day. A good time to try it is right before breakfast, to set the tone for a stress-less day.

To try the relaxation response for yourself, check out this quick guide, or watch this Good Morning America interview with Dr. Benson, who describes the technique and shares tips on how to practice it at home.

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