Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life. Stress is a normal feeling. However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
- Some people use relaxation techniques (also called relaxation response techniques) to release tension and to counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention on pleasing thoughts and images to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are autogenic training, biofeedback, deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and self-hypnosis.
- The scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation—a practice that cultivates abilities to maintain focused and clear attention and develop increased awareness of the present—may help reduce symptoms of stress, including anxiety and depression.
- Some but not all studies of yoga for stress management have shown improvements in physical or psychological measures related to stress.
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