Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for a lot of people. As the year winds down, in some ways I think we expect the pace of our busy lives to do the same. But often, the opposite is true. Life gets more hectic. We know that occasional stress is a normal part of living, but over the long term stress can contribute to or even worsen health problems.
Over the last few decades, there has been some interest in the relaxation response and how inducing this state may provide health benefits. Research in this area has focused primarily on illness and conditions in which stress appears to play a role. Currently, there is some evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for some stress-related disorders such as anxiety, headaches, and depression.
We have some information on NCCAM’s Web site about the science behind stress and relaxation techniques. I encourage you to check out this information, and of course, talk with your health care providers about any feelings of stress you have and if you are considering a relaxation technique. Best wishes for a safe, happy, and stress-free holiday!