The Relaxation Response correlates with decreased activity in the sympathetic branch of nervous system (sometimes called the "fight or flight" part of the nervous system) The physiology of the Relaxation Response can be seen in the wider context of the body's mechanisms for dealing with stress.


Contrast Between the Stress Response and the Relaxation Response

The diagram below contrasts the neurological signals and endocrine changes that are triggered by the Stress Response versus the Relaxation Response for the case of changes in blood pressure.

Diagram of the Stress Response versus the Relaxation Response

Adapted from Mind-Body Medicine by Jeffrey Dusek and Herbert Benson
Legend:
ACTH: Adrenocorticotropic hormone Cort: Cortisol Ne: Norepinephrine Epi: Epinephrine NO: Nitrous Oxide

Research on the physiology of the Stress Response and Relaxation Response is somewhat complicated by the factor of the potential psychosocial factors in experiments. People may perceive a given situation or stimulus differently depending on their history, culture, physiology, genetics and other personal factors. Therefore, suggestions for future research point out the need to test techniques that take into account more of these personal factors.