With the holidays on the horizon, many people start setting plans in stone. Where will the big feast take place? Which holiday parties will you attend and which ones will you avoid? Who needs a gift and who doesn’t? More questions like these start to build up and can easily cause anxiety and stress. And although many people associate stress and panic with this time of year, it doesn’t have to be that way.
No matter how busy or hectic your schedule is, there is always time for relaxation. Taking a 10-minute nap on your lunch break, listening to a podcast outside in the sun, stretching before bed, or doing yoga can help you unwind. Not every technique to promote anxiety relief involves sleep. In fact, there are many practices you can do while awake that help the body release tension. Read on to learn about our top three favorite practices for emotional release and anxiety relief.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a well-known deep relaxation technique, helping your muscles to relax by alternating between tension and relaxation. During this practice, you focus on each of the body’s major muscle groups, acknowledging where tension resides. Besides relaxation, another benefit of this practice is that you become more present and aware of how your muscles feel when you tighten and relax them.
To begin progressive muscle relaxation, lie down or sit comfortably and begin with a few slow, deep breaths. Allow your body to relax and then you can start tightening or creating tension in your toes for about five seconds. Release the tension and watch your toes relax. Focus on the sensations you experience as you tighten and relax your muscles. Work your way up your body, repeating the process for each of the major muscle groups. For your arms, begin with your hands, clenching your fists and then releasing. For your abdomen, pull your abdominals toward your spine, tighten, and then release as you breathe out. Even frown or pull your eyebrows together and then release in your face.
Find A Silver Lining In Things That Challenged You
Everyone is familiar with the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Many people do believe this sentiment, but when painful experiences or unfortunate happenings take place, they forget that message. It’s always easier to see how things benefited you in hindsight, for example, being single at that point in time led you to meet a very special person. Perhaps losing a job was tragic in the moment, but it led to something more fulfilling and financially rewarding.
At this time, take a moment to reflect on some painful things that you experience in your life. Identify how those experiences benefitted you, or what you learned from those moments. This is a great exercise that can help you release tension that you’ve held on since those unfortunate moments. Recognize that things happen for a reason and that you moved forward to become the amazing person you are today.
Have you ever written your thoughts or feelings down in a journal? It’s quite liberating and many therapists encourage clients to take part in this exercise. Release writing differs from regular journaling in that the main goal is to simply write without stopping. The writing may not make sense, as it is a fast-paced stream of consciousness process. You dump all your thoughts and emotions onto the page, holding absolutely nothing back.
When you bottle things up and neglect them, a common result is anxiety or general tension. You need to release that negative energy to avoid unexplained outbursts of irritability or anger. Release writing is something you can try whenever you feel tension building inside you. Let it out onto the page and don’t try to analyze, judge, or interpret what you wrote. In fact, don’t even read what you wrote. Write, release, and repeat!