Focusing on a word, phrase or your breath for 10 to 20 minutes, once a day, can be helpful in balancing the stress caused by chronic pain and/or illness. Likewise, the use of relaxation tapes, prayers or activities such as yoga or Tai Chi can help relax the mind and body. Visualization and hypnosis techniques may help decrease pain symptoms or assist with relaxation.
These techniques all have the potential for eliciting the "relaxation response," a natural calming response that can be trained in humans. However, this repetitive focusing of your mind is not the same as "relaxing." Sleeping, reading a book, watching TV or listening to music will not produce the same results as this repetitive focusing of the mind.