If you ever feel like trying to calm down makes you even more anxious, you have plenty of company. Research suggests that about 15% of the population is prone to relaxation induced anxiety, even though anyone may feel these effects under certain conditions.
Relaxation induced anxiety is what happens when your efforts to unwind make you feel more uptight.
Here’s what happens. One minute you’re stretched out in your hammock listening to reggae and loving life. The next thing you know, you’re back on your feet worried about that funny sound your car engine was making on the way home.
Find out what your mind is up to and how you can put it at ease.
Understanding Relaxation Induced Anxiety
1. Distinguish between different anxiety issues. You know you’re dealing with relaxation induced anxiety when those uneasy sensations hit you after you’ve been able to ease up for a little while.
• Never being able to relax, or only responding to music rather than massage, is characteristic of different conditions.
2. Recognize your obstacles. Pay attention to your thoughts and how they interfere with your good vibes.
• You may think you look sloppy unless you’re dressed up for a business meeting.
• Maybe you still hear your parents or teachers lecturing you about being lazy if they spotted you taking a break.
3. Monitor your body. Some people get unduly alarmed about physical sensations that occur when you slow down or speed up.
• Get familiar with your resting heart rate. Learn to sense when it’s increasing or when your breath becomes shallower or your body stiffens. Recognize that these changes are natural.
Managing Relaxation Induced Anxiety
1. Accept your feelings. One of the most powerful methods for overcoming any form of anxiety is to embrace it. Express compassion for yourself and whatever hardships you’re going through.
• Acknowledge that challenges are a part of life.
• Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
2. Go easy. You probably know what it’s like when you try to stop thinking about your lost luggage. Pretty soon it’s popping up in your thoughts more than ever.
• Similarly, forcing yourself to be still can backfire and make you feel more agitated.
• Gradually incorporate relaxation techniques into your life.
3. Drop your expectations. Different techniques work for different people. Keep an open mind. Enjoy trying out a new herbal remedy or practicing a variation of your usual breathing exercises.
• Just by focusing on the process of relaxation, you can increase your mindfulness, which can be soothing all by itself.
4. Be specific. You may need more guidance than just telling yourself to calm down. Scan your body and your mind. Unclench your jaw and lower your shoulders. Give yourself a pep talk.
5. Level with yourself. Match your words to your reality. Trying to ignore a serious illness could make you more upset than facing it head on.
6. Change the way you act. Identify the events that typically make you anxious and come up with new responses. You may find that a colleague is willing to restructure assignments rather than delegating work to you at the last minute.
7. Choose meaningful rewards. Reinforce your emerging good habits. Take yourself out to a concert or get a manicure.
8. Help others. Serving others beats most distractions that offer little long term relief. Minor worries fade away when you get caught up in volunteer work or bringing food to a sick friend.
9. Consider therapy. If excessive anxiety is disrupting your life, there are many effective treatments available. Talk with your doctor about the best options for you.
Relaxation is a vital part of keeping yourself happy, healthy, and productive. Develop effective strategies for your own individual anxiety triggers and become comfortable with loosening up.