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Relaxation Tools for Health


Touch is an effective stress reliever — it produces a feeling of well-being. There are many forms of massage:

  • Back, neck and shoulder massage, which targets the muscles where tension often is stored.
  • Full body massage, as a longer, luxurious treat.
  • Indian head massage, which covers the shoulders, neck, head and face. Scalp massage is particularly good for taking your mind off anxieties.
  • Reflexology, or foot massage. There are thousands of nerve endings in the feet which reflexologists massage to encourage energy flow and reduce tension.
  • Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage. It’s related to acupuncture and osteopathy. It can be quite intense and the masseur will use their elbows, knees and feet as well as hands.


Essential oils can be used during massage or added to a bath, handkerchief, or pillow. There are over 400 varieties, and each type is believed to have therapeutic properties. The varieties which are said to be stress-relieving include lavender, chamomile, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang and peppermint. Buy from a trustworthy retailer.


Yoga is very effective at reducing stress and improving strength, flexibility, coordination, circulation and posture. An Indian practice, dating back more than 5,000 years, yoga was designed to unify the human spirit with nature. It is now used around the world as a technique to link the body and mind in relaxation. Through stretching postures, breathing, and meditation techniques, it calms the mind and tones the body.

Yoga books and DVDs are available, but attending a class with an experienced instructor may be the best approach for a beginner.

Tai chi

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This martial art helps to reduce stress and improve strength and flexibility. It was developed to benefit health and spiritual development through a series of gentle physical movements and breathing techniques, leading to a meditative state. It is believed to facilitate the flow of chi (life energy) through the body by dissolving blockages within the body and between the body and the environment. As with yoga, it’s best to learn from a qualified teacher.


Davidson R. J. et al. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 65, 2005, pp. 564-70.

Relaxation Tools for Health

Jane Collingwood

Jane Collingwood is a longtime regular contributing journalist to Psych Central, focusing on topics of mental health and dissecting recent research findings.

APA Reference
Collingwood, J. (2020). Relaxation Tools for Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.