If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the never-ending cycle of worry and stress that can come with anxiety, know that you are not alone. In the UK, over one in ten people are living with an anxiety disorder at any single time, that's over eight million people. Anxiety is a common issue that affects people from all walks of life, but, luckily there are several techniques that can help reduce the effects. We have put together five relaxation techniques to reduce stress, that can you can try by yourself at home today.
Learn 5 techniques, including step-by-step activities and video guides to help you try them today.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Reduce Anxiety
Mindfulness meditation can be helpful for all stages of anxiety, from mild to severe. It is a technique that can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and develop a greater sense of control over them. By practising regularly, you may find that you are better able to recognise when anxiety is starting to build up and take steps to manage it before it becomes overwhelming. However, if you are experiencing severe anxiety or are struggling with a mental health condition, it's important to seek professional help in addition to using these techniques.
It is one of the most popular techniques to reduce anxiety and involves focusing on the present moment without judgment or attachment to thoughts or feelings. Practising this technique regularly helps reduce stress levels and create a sense of calm in the body, which can be beneficial for those with anxiety. To get started, try sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Notice any sensations that arise throughout your body while allowing yourself to simply be present in the moment.
Follow these steps to give it a try today and take note of any important feelings you have before, during and after the activity.
Search for a peaceful environment where you can sit or lie down free of disruption.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Begin to focus on your breath, noticing the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.
If your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your breath again.
As you continue to focus on your breathing, try to let go of any thoughts or worries that come up. Simply acknowledge them and then let them go.
If you find yourself starting to feel lost in thought, simply return to focusing on your breath.
Continue this practice for 5-10 minutes, or longer if you prefer.
Remember that being mindful and present takes practice, so don't worry if it doesn't feel natural at first. With regular practice, you may find that it becomes easier to focus on the present moment and let go of anxious thoughts and feelings.
If you prefer guided meditation, try following along with some guided sessions that are freely available on YouTube, like this one:
Reduce Stress With Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), also known as Jacobson's Relaxation is another technique commonly used to help manage anxiety symptoms and can be helpful for all stages of anxiety, from mild to severe. This technique involves contracting and then releasing muscle tension throughout the body for a few seconds each time until all parts of your body have been addressed. Practising PMR regularly helps create an awareness of tension levels in each specific part of your body, which can improve mental clarity and promote calmness when practised frequently enough. To start, try starting at the top of your head and work down through each major muscle group while tensing them gently for several seconds before releasing them slowly.
Sit or lie down in a quiet and relaxing space.
Take a few breaths to help you relax and focus your mind.
Starting with your feet, tense that area as tightly as you can for about 5-10 seconds.
Release the tension suddenly and completely, allowing the muscles to fully relax for about 10-15 seconds.
Move on to the next area, such as your calves or thighs, and repeat steps 3-4.
Continue moving up your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group one at a time, until you reach your head and neck.
Once you have completed all of the muscle groups, take some time to simply rest and relax for a few minutes.
When you're ready, slowly bring yourself back into the present moment by opening your eyes and taking a few more breaths.
Remember that this is just one example of how to do PMR - there are many variations on this technique depending on personal preference and physical ability. It's also important to note that while PMR can be an effective way to reduce anxiety in the moment, it's not a substitute for seeking professional help if you're struggling with anxiety or another mental health condition.
If you prefer guided imagery, try following along with some guided sessions that are freely available on YouTube, like this one:
Relaxation Technique - Deep Breathing Exercise
Deep breathing exercises, also known as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, are a great way to relax your body and mind and can be helpful during stages of anxiety from mild to severe. When done correctly, these exercises can increase oxygen flow throughout your body while helping you to relax tense muscles. To get started, sit or lie down in a comfortable position with your hands placed gently on your stomach. Close your eyes and begin taking slow breaths by inhaling through your nose for four counts and exhaling through the mouth for four counts. Visualise the breath going into areas where you feel the tension and visualise releasing the tension as you exhale. Continue this pattern for several minutes until you notice an overall decrease in anxiety levels.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, to help you relax and focus your mind.
Place one hand on the centre of your chest and the other on your tummy.
Breath in slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your tummy to expand as you inhale.
Hold your breath for a few seconds before exhaling slowly through pursed lips, allowing your belly to deflate as you exhale.
Take a few moments to concentrate on the sensation of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Repeat this exercise a few times, allowing yourself to relax into the rhythm of each inhalation and exhalation.
As you continue, try to let go of any thoughts or distractions that come up - simply acknowledge them and then return your attention to your breath.
When you're ready, slowly bring yourself back into the present moment by opening your eyes and taking a few more mindful breaths.
Remember that these exercises can be done anytime and anywhere - whether you are feeling anxious in the moment or just want to take a few minutes to centre yourself during the day. By making deep breathing a regular part of your routine, you may find that it becomes easier to manage feelings of stress and anxiety over time.
There are many guided videos on YouTube, you can try following along with this one or searching for others that you might find helpful.
Stress Management Through Yoga & Exercise
Yoga can be a great way to reduce symptoms of anxiety as it combines gentle physical exercise with mindful practices that help promote relaxation and overall well-being. Even just 10 minutes per day can make a huge difference in helping manage anxiety levels over time when practised regularly enough. For those who prefer more vigorous exercise such as running or aerobics, these activities also provide many benefits such as an improved mood, increased energy levels, improved sleep quality, etc., all of which are helpful for managing symptoms of anxiety too! If you are not used to intensive exercise, remember to work your way up to improving your fitness levels, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
The great news about Yoga is that you can try it at home, without needing expensive gym memberships.
Here is a short Yoga session that you can follow along with and give it a try today.
Journaling Through Times of Stress and Anxiety
Journaling can be helpful during all stages of anxiety, from mild to severe. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you gain clarity and perspective on what's causing your anxiety, as well as identify patterns that may be contributing to your symptoms. By putting your thoughts on paper, you may find that you are able to process them more effectively and come up with potential solutions or coping strategies.
Writing down your thoughts can also be a useful tool for tracking your progress over time, as well as identifying triggers or situations that tend to exacerbate your anxiety. By keeping a regular journal, you can start to see patterns in your emotional state and behaviour that may not be immediately apparent otherwise.
Overall, it is a simple yet powerful way to manage anxiety and promote mental wellness. Whether you prefer to write in a physical notebook or use an app on your phone, taking the time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions can help you feel more grounded and in control of your mental health.
Choose a notebook or journal that you feel comfortable writing in. You can also use an app on your phone or computer if you prefer.
Decide on a regular time and place to write in your journal. This could be first thing in the morning, before bed, or during a quiet moment in the middle of the day.
Set aside at least 5-10 minutes for writing each day.
Begin by simply writing down whatever comes to mind - don't worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
Focus on expressing your thoughts and feelings honestly and authentically, without judgment or self-censorship.
If you're feeling stuck or unsure what to write about, try using prompts such as "What am I grateful for today?" or "What's been weighing on my mind lately?"
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or anxious while making your notes, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that this is a safe space for exploring your emotions.
When you are finished writing, take a moment to reflect on what you have written and any insights you may have gained from the experience.
Remember that starting a journal activity doesn't have to be complicated - it's simply about creating a consistent practice of self-reflection and expression. By taking the time to check in with yourself regularly, you may find that you are able to better manage feelings of stress and anxiety over time.
Finding ways to relax our bodies and minds is essential when dealing with an anxious state – luckily plenty of strategies are available! Meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), Yoga & Exercise and journaling are all excellent methods to help reduce symptoms of anxiety while promoting overall well-being – so why not give one or more a try today? Take some time out for yourself this week - experiment with different ideas until you find what works best for you, one of these techniques may be the beginning of your journey to improved mental well-being. With patience and dedication, you could soon find yourself feeling much calmer than before.
Have you tried any of the relaxation exercises on this list? We would love to hear about your thoughts, experiences and any tips or tricks you have for managing anxiety. Leave a comment below and let us know how you got on.
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