Stress and its partner anxiety are conditions of the world in which we live, the result of too much noise, too much speed, too much pressure. The reasons why we get tense vary. But the root cause can nearly always be traced to some imbalance in our lives. Fear, anxiety, and pressure of work and home all contribute to a state of tension, and unless we find ways of coping with the situation it can cause both mental and physical pain and distress. But there are some relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress relief.
Anxiety and stress manifest themselves in a number of familiar ways: irritability, deep frowning, hunching our shoulders, biting our nails, fiddling with our hands or our hair; headaches, backaches and just about every other ache you can think of may all be symptoms of tension. As we try to wrestle with whatever problems beset us, the brain sends messages to our nervous system telling it that all is not well and we exhibit real and visible signs that this so. And it is essential that you employ some techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Stress Disorders
Headaches and backaches are possibly the most common manifestations of tensions. Both may, however, have some physiological cause. Your back may actually be aching because you are consistently putting it to bad use, assuming a posture which it does not like, or you may even be suffering from something more serious like a slipped disc. And your head may ache because you have eyestrain or sinusitis or you are suffering from an excess of alcohol, nicotine or sun, or even because you have an infected tooth. But if your doctor cannot find any physiological reason for your aches, the chances are that some form of tension is responsible. And at this stage you must apply some relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress relief.
Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief: Common Techniques
If the problem causing the tension is something straight-forward like a difficult day at work or with the children, an argument, a frustrating shopping expedition or a deadline only just met, then simply taking a hot bath, a catnap in a dark room, a quiet drink with your feet up or listening to some relaxing music for stress relief could do the trick. Laughter, too, if it is the real belly kind, can remove a feeling of tension as any comedian or politician knows.
But the most effective way of relaxing is through contrast activity. Simply doing something very different from what you have just been doing. If you are surrounded by people and noise, seek quiet and solitude for a while. If you have been by yourself for a long time, be gregarious. if you have been sitting a lot, run around the block or go for a bicycle ride. And if you have been physically very active, lie down in a quiet, dark room. Variety is often the key to relaxation.
Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief: Sleep
Sleep, as any migraine sufferer will know, is the best immediate cure for a headache, but it isn’t always possible. Fresh air or head rolling exercises to ease the knotted muscles may also help. Drugs can bring temporary relief. But if the cause is underlying tension then a real cure will only be affected by eradicating the source of the tension and by learning to relax both mind and muscle.
Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief: Breathing Technique
If tension is acute but momentary, taking a few really slow, deep breaths will help. Rapid, shallow breathing is usually a sign of stress. Not for nothing has the command ‘take a deep breath’ been issued before or during times of sudden tension. The extra oxygen released into the bloodstream and brain has a direct, if temporary, calming effect. If, however, feeling tensed up is a regular feature of your life, then mastering a good relaxation technique is vital.
Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief: Let It Go
One of the best relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress is based on the ‘tense a muscle – let it go’ technique. Very often we are simply unaware that our muscles are tense. Screwing up your face, clenching your fists, flexing your thighs, and then letting each area literally ‘flop’ will make you familiar with the difference between a tensed and a relaxed muscle and hence a tense and relaxed body. Lie down in a quiet room and, starting from the muscles in the head and working systematically down the body , tense and relax each muscle in turn and then the whole body.
Once learned, this technique can be employed at any time, provided you have ten minutes to spare and a quiet place in which to do the exercise. Massage is also a useful aid to relaxation. The muscles in the neck and shoulders are particularly susceptible to tension and may have become permanently tense or ‘knotted’. It is quite possible to learn how to massage these and other areas of the body.
Finally, if in spite of all the tricks and relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress you employ, tension continues to grip you, and then you must go right back and seek out the cause. Look into yourself as honestly as you can and ask yourself -how can you relax. Try to discover what it is that you are really worried about. Even if you don’t want to know the answer, and resolve to do something positive about it.