Last month I spoke about the Clenched Fist Method of relaxation and why it’s important, if you suffer from anxiety, to learn how to relax. And by relax I mean learning to release the tension in your muscles, not a quick 10 minutes of putting your feet up. So here’s a quick recap of why learning to relax is so important if you suffer from anxiety and as promised, how to do the Whole Body Method of Relaxation.
Strong Emotions Make us Stupid
I hear a lot of my clients say how they aren’t able to ‘think straight’ when they are in a highly anxious state or having a panic attack. The reason for this is because when we are anxious, we are in a high state of emotional arousal and in this state we essentially become ‘stupid’. Or too put it a bit nicer, being in a high state of emotional arousal, reduces our options, forcing us to take action.
When we are in a highly emotional state e.g faced with danger, the amygdala (located in the mammalian part of our brain) shuts off access to our rational thinking and reduces our thinking to ‘black and white’ options i.e a simpler choice. If we have a speeding car coming towards us, this sort of black and white thinking saves our lives because by reducing our choice of what to do, forces us to take action and gets us out of the way. If the amygdala didn’t shut of this access to our rational thinking, by the time we had gone through all the options e.g maybe it’s a film stunt, has the driver seen me, the car would probably be on top of you.
Why is Relaxing so Important?
This system is great if you have a speeding car coming towards you, but not if you are anxious or having a panic attack, because you need access to your thinking and rational brain to calm yourself down, which is very hard to do if your amygdala shuts of access to the rational part of your brain. This is where a good relaxation technique comes in like 7/11 or the Whole Body Method of relaxation because it stops the amygdala shutting off access to the rational part of your brain so you calm yourself down.
Learning an effective way of relaxing that works for you, helps you keep access to the full power of your thinking and rational brain, it gives you the ability to see a situation in the full perspective rather than just survival mode thinking of black and white, so you can diffuse a situation before it gets to the full blown panic attack or highly anxious state.
Whole Body Method of Relaxation
Last month I explained the Clenched Fist Method of Relaxation, if you have problems with your hands try this method instead. This method might also be better for you if you hold a lot of tension in your body because it goes through the main muscles of the body. The whole body method of relaxation, like the clenched fist method is also derived from yoga and works on the same basis that muscles are always more relaxed after you have tensed them and then allowed them to relax.
In turn, tense each of the muscles below, hold it for a count of 10 and then relax. Noticing each time the difference between the tension and relaxation of the muscles. Remember to keep breathing, don’t hold your breath whilst you are counting, and if you can, make your outward breath a little longer, breathing in and out through the nose:
Muscles in your upper arm – bend your arms and try and touch your shoulders with your wrists.
Muscles in the back of your arm – straighten your arms as hard as you can.
Muscles in your shoulders – shrug your shoulders tightly upwards, so your shoulders try and touch your ears.
Muscles in your forehead – raise your eyebrows as far as they will go.
Muscles in your brow and eyelids – frown and squeeze your eyes shut.
Muscles in your jaw – clench your teeth as hard as you can, being careful not to hurt yourself.
Muscles your in throat and tongue – push your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
Muscles in your lips and face – press your lips together, as tightly as you can.
Muscles in your chest – take a really deep breath and hold it.
Muscles in your stomach – make the muscles hard, as if someone is about to punch you.
Muscles in your lower back and hips – arch your back and clench your buttocks.
Muscles in your feet and legs – straighten your legs out and point your toes downwards.
Once you’ve done all the different muscles, take about 10 minutes to just relax, allowing the relaxing sensation spread through the body.
Give yourself some time to learn this method, it is a skill and like all skills it can take time and practice to learn.
Relaxing is a great way of preventing anxiety or panic attacks escalating to the point where you can’t think straight i.e you are in black and white thinking mode, however if you are finding it hard to combat your anxiety, then anxiety Hypnotherapy could help you.
If you would like to discuss how anxiety hypnotherapy could help you let go of your anxiety, contact me for a free telephone consultation, with no obligation to book a session, just a chat to see how I can help you.
How to Master Anxiety by Joe Griffin and Ivan Terrell | Published by HG Publishing 2007