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Health Benefits of Relaxation

Relaxing protects your heart

You've probably heard that stress can seriously up your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and other heart problems. While researchers aren't sure exactly why, the research is unanimously in favor of relaxation for your heart's sake. There are studies to show that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we traditionally think of as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise. Intense, sudden periods of stress or shock, like a breakup or even winning the lottery, can trigger such a rush of adrenaline that the heart can't function properly, resulting in heart failure or heart attack-like symptoms. In the case of a breakup or death of a loved one, this has become known as “broken heart syndrome”.


Relaxing lowers your risk of catching a cold

Early on, he showed that chronic stress lasting more than a month but less than six months doubled a person's risk of catching a cold. His more recent research has tried to figure out why, and results seem to point to inflammation. It appears that stress hampers the body's ability to fight inflammation, by making immune cells less sensitive to the hormone that "turns off" inflammation.


Relaxing boosts your memory

One study found that, at least in mice, chronic stress impaired the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in abstract thought, cognitive analysis and detecting the appropriate behavior for a given situation. Previous research in mice also showed that shorter bursts of stress impaired the centers of the brain involved in memory and learning, and left the mice struggling to remember how to find their way through a maze.

A number of studies have also found that stress increases the amount of certain proteins in the brain that have been linked to Alzheimer's, possibly accelerating the development of the disease.


Relaxing lowers your stroke risk

 

A Cambridge study found that people who coped the best with stressful life events had a 24 percent lower risk of stroke. This may however be partly due to the fact that people who handle stress well often are healthy in other ways, like exercising regularly and not smoking. A 2011 study examined the specific effects of work-related stress, and found that among middle- and upper-class men, psychological stress caused about 10 percent of strokes.