This article will suggest some relaxation techniques for people coping with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). To see the conditions of this disorder, please see Part One of this series.
In Margaret Wehrenberg’s The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques, she refers to Intake and Relaxation. Intake is referring to any type of food or drink that affect one’s physiology negatively, such as, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, other sweeteners, and tobacco. Intake also refers to social media and/or frequently checking one’s email.Once you start noticing a connection between intake and feelings of anxiety and/or panic, you can start adjusting intake. Instead of a second cup of coffee, have a cup of herbal tea. Sit a few minutes longer than normal and just breathe. Instead of checking email after breakfast, go for a walk around the block before getting into the car and heading to work.
Relaxation does not come naturally for a person who has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You have adapted to living with a certain level of anxiety, which may be accompanied by tension headaches, indigestion, sore jaw from clenching during the night, or pain and tightness in the neck and shoulders.
Here are a few relaxation techniques to try to help you cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Tense-And-Release Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Tighten and then release each muscle group – slowly progressing from head to toe – three times before going to the next muscle group.
- Follow this order: head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands/fingers, chest, abdomen, hips, thighs, shins/calves, ankles, feet/toes.
- Before moving from one group to the next, feel warmth flood into that muscle group.
- End with feeling how your feet are connected to the ground.
Sphere of Light Imagery
- Imagine a glowing sphere of light above your head. Vibrant with warmth and energy, it is the color you associate with peace and calm.
- Inhale the light through the top of your head.
- Exhale the warmth of the light down through your body, from the top of your head through every part until you reach your feet.
- Notice the progress of warm, vibrant energy through each muscle group.
- Associate a particular word with this sensation, and if you feel tense at any time later in the day, just take a breath, say the word, remember the sensation, and become immediately relaxed.
Thoughts as Clouds
- Sit in a comfortable spot, hands relaxed and feet touching the floor. Breathe in and out, simply noticing the physical sensation of the breaths (such as the coolness of air as it enters your nostrils) and how your body moves with each inhale/exhale.
- As you breathe, thoughts will come across your mind. Simply observe these thoughts, and continue to shift your attention to your breathing. It is helpful to imagine each thought as a cloud high up in the sky, each one slowly rolling by, one-by-one.
- Continue to focus your attention on your breathing. Notice any thoughts, see them distant from you high up in the sky, and try taking deeper and deeper breaths. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Slowly open your eyes and notice any positive changes in your body and mind.
- Sit in a comfortable position, hands relaxed and feet touching the floor. Breathe in and out regularly for a few minutes.
- Move into deeper breathing, noticing that not only will your chest rise on a deep breath but your stomach will rise on each inhale, too. As you fill your core, using your diaphragm, you fill up with each breath and then exhale completely. Do this for 4 or 5 cycles of inhale/exhale.
- As you continue breathing, imagine that the air comes up from your toes and over the top of your head, then down your backside and returns to your heels, like a huge circle.
- Or imagine the air coming up from your heels, over the top of you, down your front side, and returning to your toes, like a huge circle.
- Whichever direction you imagine, continue to be enveloped by this huge circle of air as you breathe in and out for 10 to 15 minutes. Then slowly open your eyes and notice any positive changes in your body and/or mind.
If you feel you need help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or with any of these relaxation exercises, please consider calling a Christian counselor to help you assess and begin managing your anxiety successfully. You do not have to feel hindered in your everyday life. You can be successful in your job, daily life, and relationships. This could be the first step in your healing.
“The Thinking Gruta,” courtesy of Ana Bernardo, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Thinking,” courtesy of Jacob Botter, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Breathe,” courtesy of Jill111, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License