Again this week I really didn't enjoy being in a group. After last week, I was paralysed into keeping quiet. Our psychiatrist again asked me directly for input, even when the only thing I had to add was what the rest of the group had already said. It's really daunting speaking in front of a group and I really hate it.
However, this week I guess we actually did something constructive. Sleep and relaxation is a good place to begin, as it is one thing sufferers of anxiety struggle with. Usually worrisome thoughts tend to just pop into my head which means that right before bed, or even in the middle of the night, I find myself worrying. The problem with this is that it feels like you can't help but worry.
Our therapist introduced to us a few ways to relax. Firstly, she highly recommended exercise. Exercise is not only good for the body but good for the mind. Whether it's a walk, jog, sport or a class like yoga or pilates, keeping active can help us release energy in a way that makes us feel good, and when we feel good we actually do more. It gets rid of that sluggish feeling that keeps us up at night. And because you're using more energy, when bedtime comes, you may find it better to sleep.
Another good way to relax is through breathing exercises. The good thing about these are that you can practise them at any time, wherever you are. They are good to practise for relaxation everyday, but also in stressful situations. We tried this one together in the group. Here's what to do.
- Ensure you are sitting in a comfortable chair.
- Through your nose, take a deep breath for 4 seconds (so your tummy goes up).
- Hold the breath for 2 seconds.
- Slowly release your breath for 6 seconds.
- Pause and repeat until you are relaxed.
It was recommended that you practise this twice per day, but if not once will be fine. Everybody said that this was simple yet effective, and that it really helped.
The final method we were taught was progressive muscle relaxation. When feeling particularly anxious, sometimes you might feel your muscles tense up. This method makes you practise tensing your muscles and then releasing them, so that when you are feeling stressed, you can learn to relax. I reckon this method is pretty useful to try at home, but while in the group, I was so tense anyway I couldn't feel the affects! This method requires a tape or audio of somebody telling you what to do. You can find the one we listened to here (spoken by a lovely scottish gentleman). There are loads more relaxation tapes here.
What was recommended is that whatever form of relaxation you choose to try out, make it manageable. Although it would be great if you were able to go for one jog per day, it's probably not going to fit into your lifestyle straight away. And when you miss a day's jog, you feel rubbish and go back to feeling down again. She advised to start with one jog per week, and then as you become more used to it, go twice a week, or three times. Then you start to feel the benefits of achievement, which is great for someone suffering with anxiety or depression.
These methods seem to be really good, simple ways to help relax. I hope they are of some use!