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Relaxation techniques for anxiety: 5 tips to alleviate anxiety

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2022, the entire world had a 25% increase in cases of anxiety and depression post- pandemic. Therefore, I believe it is essential that more relevant information on the subject becomes available to everyone, in this article I am sharing some relaxation techniques for anxiety that anyone can benefit from.

 

Summary

• What is anxiety?

• 5 relaxation techniques for anxiety

• The importance of therapy to prevent and treat anxiety

 

 

 What is anxiety?



 

 The Mental health Mind charity in the UK describes Anxiety as: it is what we feel when we are worried, tense, or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.

Anxiety is a natural human response when we feel faced with situations that cause fear, uncertainty, or insecurity; It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. It is very common to feel anxious, for example, in a job interview or before an important presentation or meeting new people.

At these times, anxiety works as a type of preparation so that the person is ready to face the challenge that lies ahead. I call this positive anxiety because it gives you the strength you need to achieve your goals regardless of the challenge.

The problem happens when anxiety is no longer something that is naturally part of the individual's daily life and, therefore, is already at a stage where it causes harm to quality of life and wellbeing.

 

  Anxiety can affect an individual's life in different ways. There are several types of anxiety disorders, one of which is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), (Shannon 2015 pg.5) on her book The anxiety survival guide for teens; describes generalized Anxiety as a frequent worry about school, your health or the health of your loved ones, or bad things happening in the world. Felling tense or restless, having difficulty concentrating, or having trouble falling asleep at night due to worry.

 

 

 

5 relaxation techniques for anxiety

 

Anyone who lives with anxiety knows how difficult it is to deal with anxious thoughts. But these strategies are not just for those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder because these techniques can help prevent the development and worsening of anxiety symptoms. It is something that everyone can benefit really.

 

Next, check out some tips and guidance:

 

1.      Meditation

 

An ancient practice widely adopted as one of the relaxation techniques for anxiety, which has been widespread in recent years and has gained several followers.

The act of meditating helps to improve concentration, reduce anxious and depressive symptoms, and increase emotional wellbeing, restoring peace and inner balance.

 

There are several types of meditation, some of them are:

 

• Mindfulness: which aims to focus on the present moment, so the practitioner let go of thoughts and worries.

 

• Guided Meditation: Guided by a professional, who will guide the practitioner to form mental images to relax.

 

• Mantra or anchor: characterized by the repetition of a word, phrase or thought to avoid distractions and brings the mind to the here and now.

 

At first, the practice can be quite challenging. Start with just 5 minutes a day and increase this time as needed.

 

 

2.      Diaphragmatic breathing or Belly Breathing

 

This breathing exercise activates the Vagus nerve – helping you to relax, it is an excellent way to help you regulate your emotions if you are under a lot of tension and stress aka felling anxious.

The recommendation is to perform 5 to 10 abdominal inhalations and exhalations, slowly and deeply, from the diaphragm. Try breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, focusing on emptying your lungs before inhaling again. I often recommend this breathing exercise to my clients to help with panic attacks.

Pay attention to how you feel. If you become lightheaded, slow down or stop what you are doing until you feel better.

 

3.      Yoga or stretching

 

Yoga provides many benefits for both the mind and body, including reducing stress and anxiety and increasing focus on the present moment. Furthermore, it helps with body self-awareness.

This practice also includes breathing exercises and meditations; therefore, it is a very complete technique for those who need a moment of relaxation in their daily lives.

Not everyone knows, but stretching is also a great relaxation technique for anxiety.

It's simple and easy to do, but the results tend to be even better when done in conjunction with deep breathing.

 

4.      Thinking that the crisis will pass

 

At the height of an anxiety attack most people forget that it is something temporary and it will end soon usually around 5 to 10 minutes.

When someone is having a panic attack they usually are into Fight or Flight response, when this happens the part of the brain that makes decisions is usually offline, that’s why the brain goes foggy and is hard to think.

 

Mentalizing that it is something temporary and, if possible, trying to change the focus to positive thoughts can help a lot to abstract and relax the mind. Just by being aware that it is not a real threat, you prevent it from becoming a scary and super unpleasant experience, thus increasing your fear of going through it again.

 

5.      Technique 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

 

When feeling anxious, another technique that can be put into practice is “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”, which consists of taking the focus of anxiety and focusing on other things and their details in order, to stimulate the senses. The step by step is as follows:

 

•  See - Focus on 5 different objects that you can see around you.

• Hear - Focus on 4 different sounds.

• Touch -Touch 3 objects to stimulate touch.

•Smell - Smell 2 different smells.

• Taste - Feel 1 taste.

 

The importance of Counselling to prevent and treat anxiety

 

 

As you have learned throughout this article, anxiety is something natural and part of every human being's life. However, if you feel that your anxious symptoms are harming your quality of life, it may be time to seek help from a therapist.

 

Counselling sessions are valuable for deepening self-awareness and understanding what triggers your anxiety. This way, it is possible to focus on coping strategies to reduce symptoms and manage triggers in a conscious and effective way.

There are several approaches of therapy or counselling that can help with anxiety treatment, one of them being cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which emphasises in identifying and restructuring negative thought patterns – it can be helpful to re-framing your way of thinking.

 

The most important thing is to take the first step and talk to a therapist about what you are feeling and understand how counselling can help in your treatment and, of course, in preventing new crises.

 

If you are curious about my work, send me a message.

 

 

 

You can find more help on my anxiety tips page  here:

 

 

 

 

References

 

 

  Shannon, J (2015) The anxiety survival guide for teens: CBT skills to overcome fear, worry, and panic. Instant help books An Imprint of New Harbinger Publications, Inc. (Page 5)

 

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