Merck Manual

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Relaxation Techniques


Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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  • Reducing activity of the sympathetic nervous system

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Easing muscle tension

  • Slowing metabolic processes

  • Altering brain wave activity

Relation therapy, or applied relaxation, is effective in reducing anxiety and some types of pain. Relaxation therapy can also be helpful in depression (1 Reference Relaxation techniques, a type of mind-body medicine, are practices specifically designed to relieve tension and strain. The specific technique may be aimed at Reducing activity of the sympathetic... read more ). Many studies on relaxation therapies applied to clinical conditions are small and of lower quality.

Relaxation techniques may be used with other techniques, such as meditation, guided imagery, or hypnotherapy.


  • 1. Jia Y, Wang X, Cheng Y: Relaxation therapy for depression: an updated meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis. 208(4):319-328, 2020. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001121. PMID: 32221187.

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