Life sure can be chaotic at times, can’t it? And with that comes stress. It shows up in the home, at the workplace, in personal relationships, or our health. In response, we just keep plodding along, surviving on pure adrenaline. But eventually, we burn out and become exhausted. That is if we don’t address it. Using these anxiety relief exercises below are some simple ways to tap into a more restful and relaxed state of mind helping us to be more resilient in our chaotic lives.
ANXIETY RELIEF EXERCISES
1. Deep Breathing
Rapid, shallow, irregular breathing is a typical stress response. Sometimes leading to a faster heartbeat, dizziness, or lightheadedness. On the other hand, slow, deep, regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. So by learning to control your respirations, you can relax both your body and mind.
Try these simple breathing exercises to diminish stress as it occurs. Deep breathing is easy to learn and can be used anytime and anywhere. If you find these exercises helpful, consider practicing them four to six times a day—even on non-stressful days.
2. Guided Imagery
We’ve all heard the expression, “I’m going to my happy place.” In a way, that is what guided imagery is—using your imagination to picture a place or time that makes you feel peaceful, relaxed, and happy.
How to use imagery to manage stress when you begin to feel anxious.
- Find a quiet place (if you’re at work, you might have to get creative with this one). Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply to calm down.
- Choose your setting. It can be an imaginary place or a memory of a place or time that was special to you. Now imagine yourself there and look around. What do you see, feel, hear, smell, maybe even taste? For example, perhaps you are sitting at the water’s edge in front of a cabin on a lake. You see the ripples a fish makes as it breaks the water’s surface that is so calm it looks like a mirror. You feel the crisp morning air. Maybe you can hear the haunting sound of a loon off in the distance. You smell the musky, earthy remnants of the bonfire the night before. You can taste the bacon that you had for breakfast. Include as many details as possible, relying on all your senses.
- Relax. Stay in that peaceful scene for as long as your schedule allows. Continue to breathe deeply. When you are ready to leave, remain quiet and let your mind turn back to the present. You will feel much more relaxed, in control, and prepared to address the matters at hand.
3. Muscle relaxation techniques
When you experience stress, your muscles tense up, leading to pain and stiffness. Progressive muscle relaxation is an anxiety relief exercise that helps relieve that tension. You begin by tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in, and relaxing the muscles as you breathe out. You continue to move to other muscle groups in a specific order.
When your body is physically relaxed, it’s less likely you will feel anxious. Practicing this technique frequently will help you get better at using this method to relieve stress. Progressive muscle relaxation is also a great technique to use if you have trouble falling asleep.
If you would like to learn how to practice progressive muscle relaxation, visit this University of Michigan site for step by step instructions that will take you through the procedure.
Physical activity is one of the best anxiety relief exercises for combating stress. By moving your body and increasing your heart rate, you can stimulate the production of endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins are known as the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals.
So get moving to tap into the mood-boosting, stress-relieving benefits of endorphins. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Turn on some music and get your jam on. If you’re at work, close your office door and do a quick session of yoga, calisthenics, or even just stretching. Any activity should kick those endorphins into gear.
“Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” —Terri Guillemets.
We all are going to have those stressful days where anxiety intrudes on our thoughts and daily lives. But know that it is possible to get relief, even if you feel caught up in it.
Next time you feel the stress building, give one of these anxiety exercises a try. Or another great way to learn how to manage those stressful days is to work with an anxiety coach. They can help you discover and master new ways to handle stress, which in turn, will allow you to make better decisions so you can lead a happy and calmer life.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. Together, we can work on which strategies will work best for you to recenter on those stressful days.