You have probably heard of the fight or flight response. It is a stress response governed by the sympathetic nervous system, where glands and organs are activated to either spring into action or run away in case of a threat.
You can find more on fight or flight response here.
The rest and digest response is the opposite of the fight or flight response. After the threat passes, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, stabilizing the body, decreasing heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. Healing, regeneration, detoxification, digestion are all active in this state.
In our hectic daily lives, each distraction, each notification, each meeting is bound to get us into fight or flight mode. Stress hormones are produced faster than we can think because we need them to survive in the short-term, say if we encounter a lion and have to act really quickly.
Relaxation, on the other hand, is a much slower action. You need to make a conscious effort to slow down and loosen up. The rest and digest response can be intentionally induced by deep, diaphragmatic breathing exercises.
Spending too much time in a stressed-out state has long-term physical and psychological effects, such as anxiety, depression, exhaustion, insomnia, cardiovascular diseases and eating disorders. Intentionally slowing yourself down, making time for rest and relaxation, practising awareness and gratitude will help bring balance and wellbeing into your life.
You can find more on relaxing breathing exercises here.