If your body is frequently on ‘high alert’ or you feel anxious in certain situations, you can use relaxation to help turn off the alert.
Relaxation helps the physical symptoms of anxiety by slowing your heart rate, calming down your breathing and lowering your blood pressure. The unpleasant physical sensations will start to reduce as your body is no longer in ‘emergency mode’.
Relaxation also helps relieve your mind of stress and worry. It can divert you away from your anxieties and focus your mind on something else for a while. Being more relaxed can also help you sleep better, and relaxation is known to be linked to improved wellbeing generally.
Relaxation is a skill, and like any other skill it needs practice. It might not feel natural at first and you might feel a bit unsure or silly, but try and stick with it and see if you notice any changes.
You can use relaxation when you are feeling nervous, anxious or on edge. However, it can also help to build relaxation into your daily life to improve your general wellbeing and manage anxiety before it takes over. By doing this, over time, both your body and mind will get more used to being relaxed – and less used to being anxious.
There are many types of relaxation exercises to try on for size. Some you may have heard of are:
This is a common question. If a relaxation exercise focuses on an uncomfortable, restricted or painful part of your body, do not feel you have to persevere. Always take advice from your doctor before starting any new exercise if you have concerns. Most exercises are adaptable and you can adjust to something that is right for you. Here are some examples:
Here are some exercises to try out:
You can do this breathing exercise, standing, sitting or lying down.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) involves tensing and relaxing muscles in sequence.
There are many sources of relaxation exercises on the internet, on You Tube, in phone apps and in shops. You may not have much experience of these, but try them out a few times and find what works best for you. You might also consider looking at our sheet on Managing worry and anxiety.
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