When you have anxiety, it is very difficult to relax. Many of us feel like we are never totally relaxed. Your mind is frequently running scenarios of things that can go wrong. Or it is running replays of things that did go wrong. Or it is reminding you of what a screw-up you are and that nobody likes you.
Anxiety is not a problem that goes away. Some people can manage it with medication or therapy. But they don’t work for everyone. And some people don’t have access to them.
If you are on your own trying to manage your anxiety it is important to find ways to relax your body and quiet your mind. The respite might only last for a few minutes, but when you are tense 24/7, every little bit helps.
There are a lot of relaxing options that you can try. Continue to experiment until you find some that work for you.
It is important to learn to breathe deeply and slowly. This helps to loosen the hold that panic can have over your mind. I just focus on slowing my breathing down. I find the counting tricks to be too distracting. I will get frustrated if I lose count or mess up. That kind of defeats the purpose.
But I know many people swear by them. The simplest I have heard of is to breath in for a count of six and then breath out for a count of six. Many people have found success with the 4–7–8 method of breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and then exhaling for a count of eight. Try different things and see what works for you.
Learning to focus your mind can also have relaxing benefits that will help manage your anxiety. There are many different types of meditation you can try. With some, you just sit and try to clear their mind or focus on a mantra. Others use guided meditations through an app or Spotify.
Mindfulness is something that can be used with meditation or on its own. Mindfulness is when you focus your attention on what is happening in the present. No past regrets. No future worries. Only the immediate present moment.
Visualization is another technique that can be used for relaxation. If you have a particular place that you find relaxing — your bedroom, your favorite beach, your grandmother’s kitchen from when you were a child — learn to visualize that place in perfect detail. Practice visualizing until it feels real. You can hear the sounds. You can smell the smells. Once you can visualize it in that much detail, try escaping there when you are feeling overwhelmed with your anxiety. Close your eyes and go to your relaxing spot for a few minutes.
Yoga and other forms of stretching can help your body to relax. Many of us hold our anxiety in our bodies in the form of tight muscles. Learning ways to physically relax those muscles can help release some of your anxiety.
If you can afford a massage or have a generous partner, that may help relax those muscles as well.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to use writing to relax. When your mind is running a thousand miles a minute, it will help you to take some time to sit down and dump everything you are worried about onto a piece of paper. Write it all down. If paragraphs seem too formal for you, just write a list. Bullet points are fine.
Using a pen and paper works best for me. I suspect that is because the physical act of writing feels more real. I type almost everything, but when I’m brain dumping anxiety, I write the old-fashioned way.
Nobody else is going to read it. The objective is to get the worries outside of you. Brain dump them all onto the paper. This will give you some relief and a few moments of relaxation.
Some of the worries may return to your mind, but some may follow that piece of paper into the trash can.
Distract your overactive mind. Play with your pet. Watch funny videos online. Go on social media — unless that just makes you feel worse. With the country being what it is right now, social media is often a place that just makes me feel worse. I use it for professional reasons and then log off. It is no longer relaxing for me. But some of you have curated your social media to just pleasant things and then it would serve as relaxation for you.
Music can also be a great distraction. Listen to something upbeat. Or try binaural beats. I just discovered them a few weeks ago. I’ve been using the ones for focus. They kick ass. I cannot attest to the relaxation ones because I have not tried them yet.
If you like video games, use them. I’m not a fan of traditional video games, but I do enjoy the simple ones like Candy Crush on my tablet. I frequently use those to clear my mind. Do what works for you. If you like to drive around the race track and Mario or go on secret missions to root out Nazis, go for it.
Finally, try relaxing self-care. This will look different for everyone. Some people like alone time. Take a bubble bath, read a book, go for a solo walk. Some people enjoy being around other people. Have coffee with a friend or go on a hike with them. Find something you find relaxing and nurturing for yourself.
Relaxing can be a challenge when you are an anxious person. With some experimenting and practice, you can find small ways to incorporate relaxation into your day. These small ways will add up and help you manage your anxiety and your life.