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Is Relaxation the Best Medicine?

Is Relaxation the Best Medicine?

You may know that your body is brilliantly equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that repair broken proteins, kill cancer cells, fight infections, retard aging and generally keep your body healthy. But did you know that these self-repair mechanisms can be flipped on or off with the power of thoughts, beliefs and feelings that originate in the mind?

It’s not New Age hocus pocus. It’s simple physiology! Here’s how it happens for the nerds among you who, like me, like to understand how things in the body work.

The Stress Response Vs. Relaxation Response

Your nervous system operates in two different states – the “fight-or-flight” stress response, when the sympathetic nervous system dominates, and the relaxation response, when the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge. But here’s the kicker: your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms only activate when your body is in a relaxation response!

The average person experiences 50 stress responses per day, and every time you have a fearful thought or a pessimistic belief or a resentful feeling, you trigger stress responses that fill the body with poisonous stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. But when you have an optimistic belief or a loving thought or a feeling of compassion, you activate relaxation responses, and the body can then do what it does best: heal itself.

Balancing The Nervous System

How can you help your body heal itself? It’s all about reducing stress responses and adding in relaxation responses. Reducing your stress requires taking a good look at your life to determine whether there are any areas where you’re living out of alignment with your truth and personal integrity. Maybe you’re in a soul-sucking job or a toxic relationship, or maybe it’s time to finally forgive your father or pursue a dream. While reducing stress responses can require some radical actions, activating relaxation responses can be easy and pleasurable.

Here are a few scientifically-proven relaxation response activators:

  • Laughter
  • Playing with animals
  • Meditation
  • Dance
  • Generous giving of time or gifts
  • Massage
  • Creative expression
  • Attending religious services
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Nurturing touch
  • Seeing an alternative medicine practitioner
  • Listening to music

Still not sure how to heal yourself? Get quiet and tap into your intuition and ask yourself this one question – “What does my body need in order to heal?” Let yourself hear the truth, and then choose one baby step you can take right now that will either reduce stress responses in your life or increase relaxation responses. Then muster up your courage and take action!

My Self-Healing Story

By the time I was 33 years old, I had been diagnosed with a whole laundry list of health problem my doctors deemed chronic and incurable, but by making The Diagnosis for myself and writing my own Prescription, I was able to enlist the help of my body’s natural self-repair mechanisms and get off all but 1 of the 7 medications I was taking – and I’m now symptom-free. You can read all the juicy details of my personal Prescription–-all the things I did to overcome my multiple health conditions–-in my book Mind Over Medicinewhich you can order here.

You can activate the same sort of radical self-healing in yourself when you make your body ripe for miracles by allowing your self-repair mechanisms to operate optimally.

Do you believe your body can heal itself? I do…

With faith in your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms,

Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities and, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary. Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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2:07PM PST on Dec 21, 2013

This is definitely good to keep in mind!
We get so much engativity and stress - especially if we are compassionate with all the suffering around is. We really need to give ourselves a break regularly.

12:33PM PDT on May 17, 2013

One literally needs a mixture of Work, Rest and Play.

1:46PM PDT on May 16, 2013

Thank you Lissa, for Sharing this!

6:05PM PDT on May 13, 2013

Here is a simple and quick breathing relaxation exercise

10:56PM PDT on May 10, 2013

thanks for the article

6:38PM PDT on May 8, 2013

Really enjoyed this article. I am stressed and overworked most days of the week and the strain it puts on my thinking process is just too much. I try relaxing,but the 24 hours just go by so quickly and then it starts all over again.
But when I finally get just 1 hour of me time it feels terrific. During my time I listen to my favorite music and just dance away. We all need to just stop sometimes and just relax....
Thank you for this article...

5:46PM PDT on May 8, 2013

thank you

5:20AM PDT on May 8, 2013

No side effects, no overdose.

4:37AM PDT on May 8, 2013


1:50AM PDT on May 8, 2013

It depends on each individual as to what is relaxing for them.......some people are only happy working.............and trying to change them will probably just kill them off quicker, thanks for article!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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This article makes realize I need to clean up the clutter. Thank you.

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