I've been practicing meditation for many years and just recently did I learn about the term "Relaxation Response" coined by Dr. Herbert Benson. I like how succinctly he describes what's happening in your body as you relax... instead of the very long-winded "parasympathetic nervous system" :) As it turns out, meditation does exactly this! You can activate your Relaxation Response by practicing meditation, as well as many other healing methods, such as yoga, massage, energy work, acupuncture, visualization, breathing techniques, etc., thereby lowering your Stress Response.
The key that I've found is to practice slowing things down, from your physical movements, to your breathing and your thoughts, and even your daily schedule. The next time you're feeling stressed, take a few minutes to sit quietly and slow down your breathing, taking long, slow inhales and exhales. It can be helpful to count to 5 on each inhale and exhale to practice consciously slowing down your breath as you breathe deeply through your belly. And, consider scheduling less each day to create some spaciousness in order to slow things down and build in time for relaxation.
You may be wondering right about now, why is this so important? Well, it turns out that when we are constantly in a state of stress, it can be detrimental to our health. And the Relaxation Response is a very accessible way to counteract the damaging effects of stress hormones on our bodies.
"When high levels of stress hormones are secreted often, they can contribute to a number of stress-related medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, GI diseases, adrenal fatigue, and more. Research has shown that regular use of the Relaxation Response can help any health problem that is caused or exacerbated by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal ailments, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety disorders, and others."
I wish you much spaciousness and lots of time for slowing down as we enter the busy summer months. See if you can build in some time for relaxation as well as all the fun :)
To learn more about Dr. Herbert Benson's Relaxation Response, and how to practice it, check out this article on Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201303/dr-herbert-benson-s-relaxation-response