Stress and anxiety are no fun, especially when you feel like you have no control over what is happening to your body. Even though sometimes we feel like nothing will help, there are skills that we can learn to alleviate anxiety and stress, and take back our lives! Today we are going to be discussing two relaxation techniques, that if implemented correctly, can help to reduce anxiety and stress when you need them most!
Relaxation skills are techniques that allow you to initiate a calming response within your body. Everyone has their own preferences and skills that they find work best for them, but the most common relaxation techniques are:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
Deep Breathing For Anxiety And Stress
Deep breathing requires conscious control of your breathing. You will learn to breathe slowly and intentionally to enhance the body’s relaxation response and reduce anxiety symptoms. This method works by intentionally slowing down your breathing which then naturally results in a slowing of the heart rate while also calming and regulating anxiety.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is an easy way to breathe more slowly, which can help with stress and anxiety.
- 4 Seconds: breathe in softly through the nose
- 7 seconds: hold the breath
- 8 seconds: exhale slowly and consistently through the mouth, pursing the lips
Deep breathing can be valuable in the moment when confronting anxiety-provoking situations or as a general way to reduce overall stress. It can be valuable to practice deep breathing daily even when you aren’t feeling tense or anxious—the effects can be long-lasting!
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) For Anxiety And Stress
Progressive muscle relaxation, also known as PMR, requires a bit more effort than deep breathing, but it can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms and also is a great technique to use for easing anxiety that occurs when trying to go to sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that relies upon the mind-body connection to elicit a state of deep relaxation. It should be done in a quiet place, lying down and with eyes closed.
It is a great technique to help with anxiety at bedtime and can be practiced when in bed when trying to fall asleep. Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on tensing and relaxing muscles systematically in a rhythmic, consistent pattern starting at your head and working down towards your toes.
Firmly tense each muscle group for about 5-6 seconds followed by a period of intentional relaxation of that same muscle group for 15 seconds afterward.
Muscle Group One:
- Forehead (raise your eyebrows as far as you can)
- Eyes (clench your eyelids tightly shut)
- Jaw (gently push your jaw forward to stretch the hinges of your jaw)
- Chest (tighten by taking a deep breath)
- Stomach (suck your stomach in)
- Hips and Buttocks– Squeeze your buttock muscles
Muscle Group Two
- Right Neck/Shoulder- shrug the shoulder towards your ear and roll the head towards that shoulder so that your ear and shoulder are touching
- Right upper arm (tighten your biceps by drawing your forearm up towards your shoulder and “make a muscle”, while clenching fist)
- Right forearm and hand (clench your fist)
- Then L upper arm and L forearm and hand
Muscle Group Three
- Right Upper leg (squeeze thigh muscles)
- Right Lower leg (flex foot upwards to tighten your calf muscle)
- Right Foot (curl toes downward)
- Then left upper leg, left lower leg, and then left foot
When you’re feeling anxious, especially in the evenings, progressive muscle relaxation can be quite effective for calming your anxiety and tension. This exercise may seem tedious initially but will eventually become a skill that can be used on an everyday basis for anxiety management.
There are many everyday skills to decrease anxiety. One of the most popular is progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that has been shown to be as effective as medication in reducing symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Another way you can better manage your anxiety is through deep breathing techniques.
If you’re looking for other options in addition to these techniques, we are specialists in mental health treatment, and specialize in anxiety. Medications can be a very effective way to decrease your anxiety at baseline while you continue to use these techniques in your day-to-day life.
If you would like to speak with an Aura MD online anxiety psychiatrist in Texas call us now at +1-832-430-2872. You can also schedule an appointment by visiting our contact page or clicking the “new patient” button anywhere on our website. You can now get treated by one of our telepsychiatrists in Texas from the comfort of your own home or office right online by one of our board-certified anxiety doctors!
We hope this blog was helpful and informative! Feel free to start using these techniques today and let us know if you’ve found them helpful or other skills you use that help you manage anxiety!