Anxiety and Stress

  • relax swanIt is normal, and necessary, for us all to have emotional responses to events and circumstances in our lives
  • As individuals we have our own ways of coping with challenges.  Usually we will rise to them but sometimes the challenge is prolonged.  This can prompt chemical changes in our bodies … known as the ‘stress response’
  • It is not abnormal to experience anxiety
  • Stress is necessary and useful in the short term, but left unchecked it can cause subtle changes in our breathing, our heart rate, and muscle tension.  This can cause one or more symptoms which can include:
    • Headaches
    • Palpitations
    • Light-headedness
    • Poor concentration
    • Sleeplessness
    • Unexplained mood swings
  • These symptoms in turn can interfere with ordinary daily activities and with relationships
  • Relaxation is one way to manage this which can be introduced and practiced in your daily routines
  • canal near TauntonBenefits of Relaxation
    • A simple & effective way of recognising & managing the effects of the natural ‘stress response’ on body & mind
    • Increases confidence in ability to deal with feelings of anxiety, panic, fear, sleeplessness
    • Helps to promote a sense of well-being & calm
    • Can improve personal relationships and communication
    • Promotes improved patterns of breathing
    • Can reduce fatigue by increasing awareness of muscular tension and conserving energy
    • Slows the heart rate, and can lower blood pressure
    • Can help in the relief and management of pain
  • Relaxation is a conscious process and focuses attention on areas of the body to become aware of any physical and emotional tension & actively changing it
  • Relaxation is different from doing something for pleasure that you find relaxing such as reading a book or going for a walk
  • If at first you do not find immediate benefit do not give up as it will probably feel quite awkward initially.  As with any new skill, relaxation needs to be practised for it to be learned so that you can apply it automatically in any situation
  • Relaxation can be done in many different ways, methods include
    • Using prompts to visualise tranquil scenes
    • Repeat positive statements
    • Sequences to tense & release muscles
    • Some focus just on breathing control
  • It is easier to follow direction when you are unsure what to do and pre-recorded audio discs of ‘Guided relaxation’ can help; you may find it useful to watch our video about relaxation which includes a short guided relaxation session with Maggie Beart, Occupational Therapist

  • Music is not always necessary although some people find it helpful; however music should not have a distinct rhythm or beat as the mind will latch onto this
  • Nature sounds such as birdsong, waves or trickling water, whale song are other options
  • Self-help booklets are available too which contain diagrams to help you understand and apply relaxation techniques.
  • Take time and care in making your selection as you want this to be successful.
  • Setting aside a regular time each day to carry out your relaxation is important, allowing at least 15 minutes initially.  This is YOUR time so use somewhere
    • Quiet
    • Warm
    • With no disturbances, for example unplug the phone
  • Be sure to let those around you know this is an important time for you and ask them not to disturb you during your relaxation time
  • Make sure to use a supportive chair, settee, bed, even the floor as long as you can get up again!
  • The technique does help with insomnia, and you may drop off to sleep, BUT in order to fully appreciate the effects of the relaxation and benefits of the relaxation process the idea is to remain awake – conscious
  • Establish a habit and practice, practice
  • Knowing that you can control anxiety will make you more confident too.