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to relax when you're all wound up
How do we handle stress? When our moods loom large in our lives, we may react with anger, defensiveness, irritability, depression and anxiety. And, when we're tense and anxious, we find it hard to concentrate or sleep.
Lifestyle or emotional stressors can trigger our "fight or flight" response, resulting in an acceleration of our pulse rate, respiration and blood circulation, and an increase in muscle tension, resulting in physical discomfort and health problems.
Learn to gain more
control over your anxiety, anger and depression with these relaxation
- Listen to calming
music. Slow, quiet classical music, or recordings of nature sounds
can relax our minds and bodies. Keep recordings in your car as well
as at home.
- Practice diaphragmatic
breathing: Start while lying on your back. Place one hand on your
chest and one hand on your belly. Let your belly rise easily when inhaling
and fall when exhaling. Use the hand on your chest to prevent breathing
from your chest. Try for about 6 breaths per minute. This is a slow
relaxed process; don't force it. Once you've learned this technique,
practice it whenever you become anxious.
- Eat a balanced
diet: Don't skip meals. Try to eat from all of the food groups.
to release muscle tension with a tension-taming exercise.
- Exercise: Physical activity helps your body and mind. Go to the gym. Go for a
walk. Practice yoga. Even a little
exercise can reduce tension.
- Try focusing: Select a small, special personal object. Focus all your attention on
this object as you inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for one to two
minutes. Try not to let any other thoughts or feelings enter your mind.
This exercise can make you feel calmer and more peaceful.
- Get a massage by a trained massage therapist, a friend or partner to promote relaxation.
your shoulders: When you're tense, you're likely to lift your shoulders,
which limits the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Relaxing them
restores circulation, and you'll feel more relaxed and clear-headed.
- Meditate to relax and revitalize.
- Socialize: Stay in touch with friends, do volunteer work, develop a support network.
- Make time for enjoyable activities,
like a warm bath or sipping herbal tea outside in the morning sun.
- Talk it over: Reach out to your friend, family member, romantic partner or therapist
when you're feeling stressed.
- Avoid alcohol.
While temporarily soothing, it depresses the central nervous system,
which creates more anxiety and can even trigger panic attacks. Caffeine,
nicotine and unprescribed drugs can also aggravate anxiety.
How to relax: Meditate
How to relax: Relieving muscle tension
Yoga for mental health
Disorders Association of America
Page updated August 1, 2010