Relaxation Techniques: Breathing Exercises, Aromatherapy, Massage, Muscle Relaxation & Visualization

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  • 0:01 The Need for…
  • 0:35 Breathing Exercises
  • 1:18 Aromatherapy
  • 2:37 Muscle Relaxation
  • 3:13 Visualization
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

There are many different methods that are helpful to induce feelings of relaxation. This lesson discusses five types of relaxation techniques. We end with a quiz to test what you have learned.

The Need for Relaxation Techniques

Stress is a major cause of physical illness and mental illness in human beings. Psychologists use various methods to help people reduce stress and improve well-being. These methods are referred to as relaxation techniques. There are standard treatments, such as counseling and medication for stress reduction, and there are alternative treatments. Some very effective alternative treatments are breathing exercises, aromatherapy, massage, muscle relaxation, and visualization.

Breathing Exercises

In life, we are frequently told to take a deep breath. Why does deep breathing seem to help in stressful situations? Breathing exercises have been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, thereby increasing feelings of relaxation. There are many different types of breathing exercises, all sharing the goal of relaxation and reduced stress.

The main idea is that the individual must focus on the breathing and control the breathing in some way. One example is equal breathing - a technique that asks the participant to inhale through the nose for a count of four and exhale through the nose for a count of four. This exercise creates a sense of relaxation and regulates pulse and heart rates.


Aromatherapy uses the fragrance of natural essential oils to impact mood. Certain essential oils have been used in aromatherapy to produce relaxation. The theory is that just simply smelling the fragrance tells the brain to relax.

Lavender essential oil, a popular addition to bath products, has been used to induce relaxation and even sleep. Rose oil has been used for centuries in perfumes and cleansers to induce feelings of calmness and serenity. The scent of vanilla is also very popular for lotions and candles as a means of relaxation. There are even reports that the scent of vanilla decreases appetite.


Massage uses touch to relax muscles and relieve tension and stress. There are various types of massage ranging from Swedish to deep tissue to prenatal and beyond. Massage specialists are trained in human anatomy, with a special focus on the musculature system. The idea is that intentional and firm pressure to the muscles helps to alleviate stress. Massage therapists commonly incorporate scented oils and heat to magnify the power of touch and further reduce stress.

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