There are many activities with demonstrated restorative properties that a person might engage in within a restorative space. Our standard for inclusion in the list below is that the activity (1) must be something that an individual can do alone, without assistance or with some minimal guidance that does not require the participation of another person, and (2) there must be research evidence or strong qualitative evidence of the activity’s restorative effect.

To read more about any activity and find follow-up resources, click on the activity’s name. To see citations regarding research on the activity’s restorative properties, click on the footnote.

Other activities listed here can be found in their respective sections. Links to those sections are provided.



Individuals can use biofeedback machines on their own after very little instruction; biofeedback has been demonstrated to have restorative effects in a wide range of applications.


A good introduction to biofeedback, by Bette Runck of the National Institutes of Mental Health.

In this article, Dr. Ilan Shalif asserts, “"You do not need any bloody instrument to do biofeedback training"


Biofeedback, Third Edition: A Practitioner’s Guide edited by Mark S. Schwartz and Frank Andrasik (Guilford Press, 2003)


Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

Biofeedback Network


There are many, many suppliers of biofeedback equipment, which can be found through any online search engine.



Paying attention to breathing and breathing “properly” is associated with short-term and longer-term restoration. There are many views about the best way to breathe for the most beneficial results; several such “schools” of breathwork are included in the references here.


Courtney, R. “Buteyko Breathing for Health”

Thorpe, D. “Transformational Breathing: A New Process for Health and Wellbeing”


The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi (Henry Holt, 1998)

Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery by Gay Hendricks (Bantam, 1995)

Exploring Holotropic Breathwork edited by Kylea Taylor (Santa Cruz, CA: Hanford Mead, 2003)

The Tao of Natural Breathing by Dennis Lewis (Mountain Wind, 1996)


Association for Holotropic Breathwork

Authentic Breathing Resources




Computer-Assisted Activities

Computer programs and internet-assisted learning can help individuals achieve restorative states. Also, access to a computer can help individuals who are using a restorative space look up additional information about potential restorative activities.


We are not recommending these specific products, but only using them as examples of computer-assisted activities with claimed restorative effect.


The Institute of HeartMath’s “FreezeFramer” product is “an interactive learning system designed to prevent, manage and reverse the effects of stress and anxiety.”

LifeJournal software facilitates personal journaling. Its creators say, “Its innovative features foster your ability to gain insight and promote creative self-discovery.”

Elixa, Ltd. produces software for biofeedback applications.

Kitz Technologies offers a program that incorporates sound and color into meditation practice.

The Integrative Medicine Alliance hosts an “Online Distant Healing Clinic,” of which it says, “To our knowledge it is the only resource on the Internet that attempts to provide people of all faiths and backgrounds with opportunities to give or receive free distant healing or healing prayer.”


Creative Expression

Creating art has been demonstrated to effect restoration. Although formal “art therapy” is practiced with a trained leader, there are many restorative activities – such as collage-making, mandala drawing, and working with clay – that can be undertaken by individuals with some preliminary guidance. For full restorative benefit, that guidance (in the form of, e.g., an introductory class or written materials) should be provided.


Cappacchione, L. “The Ten Steps of Visioning” (Collage-making)


Art and Healing: Using Expressive Art to Heal Your Body, Mind, and Spirit by Barbara Ganim, Michael Samuels, and Mary Lane (Three Rivers, 1999)

Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity by Michael Samuels and M.R. Lane (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998)

Living with Feeling: The Art of Emotional Expression by Lucia  Capacchione  (J.P. Tarcher: 2001)

Mandala: Luminous Symbols for Healing by Judith Cornell (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books: 1995)

Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams by Lucia  Capacchione (J.P. Tarcher: 2000)


American Art Therapy Association

Art As Healing Force Web

Now Get Creative



Restorative effects have been attributed to walking a labyrinth (though those effects have not been tested through quantitative research.)


Corbett, P. “Pathfinders: Walking Medieval Labyrinths in a Modern World”

Kibbe, T. “The Labyrinth: A Path to the Sacred”


Exploring the Labyrinth: A Guide for Healing and Spiritual Growth  by Melissa Gayle West (Broadway Books, 2000)

The Healing Labyrinth: Finding Your Path to Inner Peace by Helen Sands and Robert Ferre (Barrons: 2001)

The Way of the Labyrinth: A Powerful Meditation for Everyday Life by Helen Curry and Jean Houston (Penguin: 2000) 


Labyrinth Guild of New England

Spiral Touch




Light Therapy

There are several forms of light therapy. The most widely used is the “SAD” machine. Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”) affects many people, making them unhappy or even depressed when they experience insufficient sunlight. Sitting before full- or near-full spectrum lights has been shown to relieve this condition.


Breiling, B. “Light Therapy”

Breiling, B., J.L. Nelson, and M. Hartley. “Light Assisted Psychotherapy by Brief Photostimulation Through the Eyes”

Norton, D. “A Bright Future for Light Therapy”


Light: Medicine of the Future by Jacob Liberman (Bear & Co., 1992)

Light Years Ahead: The Illustrated Guide to Full Spectrum and Colored Light in Mindbody Healing edited by Brian Breiling and Bethany ArgIsle (Celestial Arts, 1996)


Light Years Ahead


There are many varieties of “SAD” machines and other light-therapy equipment, which can be located by conducting an internet search. The appendices in Light Years Ahead list many sources.



Connecting in some way with a higher power has been shown to have restorative effects. How one might do that will depend on many things, including his or her faith tradition. We cannot provide resources for such a vast area of possible practices, but many are available. You can read a collection of articles by noted prayer advocates at:
dec01features.htm, and you can see how prayer may be integrated with a relaxation technique in Beyond the Relaxation Response: How to Harness the Healing Power of Your Beliefs, by Herbert Benson 

A multifaith compendium of prayers related to healing is contained in Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for A Changing Life by Julia Cameron (J.P. Tarcher, 1999)



Self-hypnosis can be a strategy for restorative deep relaxation or for addressing a number of specific issues.


Self-Hypnosis: The Complete Manual for Health and Self-Change by Brian Alman and Peter Lambrau (Brunner/Mazel, 1991)

Effective Self Hypnosis: Pathways to the Unconscious (Book/Tape Combination) by C. Alexander Simpkins and others (Radiant Dolphin, 2000)



_____. “Self-Massage”

_____. “Self-Massage”


The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair Davies (New Harbinger, 2001)


Snoezelen Design

In a highly interactive sensory environment, individuals experience a multiplicity of different activities on the sensory level – light, noises, feelings, smells and taste. Although these environments have primarily been used for individuals with development disorders – ranging from children with disabilities to elders with dementia – they may also be applicable for individual restoration.


Owens, B. “Therapy of the senses: Sights, sounds in ‘Snoezelen’ room designed for relaxation”

______. “What Is SNOEZELEN?”


Snoezelen: Evidence from Practice edited by Patricia Schofield and Roger Hutchinson (Free Association Books, 2000) 

Snoezeling: A Handbook for Practitioners by Michele Shapiro and Sharon Bacher


Flaghouse (information and products)

Rompa (information and products)


Strategic Breaks and Pauses

Research evidence shows that much restoration can be accomplished during relatively brief pauses, if they are approached properly.


The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life by Robert Cooper (New York: Crown, 2001): 73-80

The Twenty Minute Break: Reduce Stress, Maximize Performance, Improve Health and Emotional Well-Being Using the New Science of Ultradian Rhythms by Ernest Rossi (Zeig Tucker & Co., 1991)


Visualization and Guided Imagery

Although we have placed these two practices together, imagery is not synonymous with visualization, since visualization technically refers only to seeing something in the mind's eye, whereas imagery can mean imagining through any sense, as through hearing or smell.


Gawain, S. “How to Make Creative Visualization Part of Your Life”

Milios, R. “Harnessing the Power of Visualizations and Affirmations”

____. “Guided Imagery or Visualization”


Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain (New World, 2002)

Guided Imagery for Self-Healing by Martin Rossman (H.J. Kramer, 2000)

Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness by Jean Achterberg and others (Bantam, 1994)


[1] For one of hundreds of specific research studies, see Yucha, C.B., L. Clark, et al. “The Effect of Biofeedback in Hypertension” Applied Nursing Research 2001 Feb;14(1):29-35  For a summary of the research, see, e.g., Pepper, E., et al. Mind Body Integration: Essential Readings in Biofeedback (Plenum Press, 1979)

[2] Several research studies are reported at Click on “New Tips and Research.”

[3] “Web therapy may help tinnitus sufferers cope with problem.”
newsrelease/tinnitus9-24-02.cfm ; McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D., Atkinson, M. and Watkins, A. “The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol.” Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science. 1998; 33(2):151-170

[4] See, for example, Zambelli, G.C. , E.J. Clark, and M. Heegard. “Art therapy for bereaved children,” in H. Wadeson, J. Durkin, and D. Perach, eds. Advances in Art Therapy (pp.). (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1989): 60-80.

[5] “A small but growing body of research studies documents the benefits of this form of light therapy, technically known as photic stimulation. Flashing light is shone into the eyes either from a mask or goggles worn by the patient or by having the patient sit in front of a larger flashing light source one or two feet away. Typically the treatment is applied for 15 or 20 minutes per day. In a hospital trial in London, flashing light therapy proved more effective than any previously published treatment for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).” Anderson, D.J., Legg, N.J., and Ridout, D.A. “Preliminary trial of photic stimulation for pre-menstrual syndrome.” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 17(1): 76-79, 1997.

[6] See, for example, Schwartz, P.J,, Brown, C, and Rosenthal, N.E., “Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Follow-Up Study of the First 59 Patients of the National Institute of Mental Health Seasonal Studies Program.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, 153(8): 1028, 1996; and Joffe, R.T., Moul, D.E., and Lan, R.W., “Light Visor Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Multicenter Study.” Psychiatry Research, 46(1): 29, 1993.

[7] See Dossey, L. Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine (Harper San Francisco: 1993); “Proof That Prayer Works”; and “Religion May Help Lower Blood Pressure in African-Americans”

[8] See, for example, Goldberg, B. “Hypnosis and the immune response.” International Journal of Psychosomatic Illness 1985:32(3): 34-36; Kiecolt-Glaser JK et al. “Hypnosis as a modulator of cellular immune dysregulation during acute stress.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2001:69 (4): 674-82; and Rossi, E.L. The Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing: New Concepts of Therapeutic Hypnosis (New York: W.W. Norton, 1986) These references apply to hypnosis administered professionally, not self-hypnosis.

[9] The restorative effects of massage are amply demonstrated. See, e.g., Ironson, G., Field, T., “Massage Therapy is Associated with Enhancement of the Immune System’s Cytotoxic Capacity.” International Journal of Neuroscience. 1996:84:205-217; and Cady, S.H., Jones, G.E. “Massage Therapy as a Workplace Intervention for Reduction of Stress.” Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1997:84(1): 157-158

[10] Schofield P. “Evaluating Snoezelen for relaxation within chronic pain management.” British Journal of Nursing 11 (12): 812-821, Jun-Jul 2002.

[11] See, e.g., Cooper, R.K. The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life by Robert Cooper (New York: Crown, 2001): 73-80; and Rossi, E. The Twenty Minute Break: Reduce Stress, Maximize Performance, Improve Health and Emotional Well-Being Using the New Science of Ultradian Rhythms (Zeig Tucker & Co., 1991)

[12] “Imagery has been successfully tested as a strategy for alleviating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients (Frank, 1985; Scott et al., 1986), to relieve stress (Donovan, 1980), and to facilitate weight gain in cancer patients (Dixon, 1984). It has been successfully used and tested for pain control in a variety of settings; as adjunctive therapy for several diseases, including diabetes (Stevens, 1983); and with geriatric patients to enhance immunity (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 1985).” From Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons, A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States

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