Anxiety is a problem that we constantly encounter today. Our mind wants to control a situation or make sure everything will be okay, and ends up focusing entirely on the future.by preparing and anticipating a scenario that, in many cases, may never happen.
Of course, mental anxiety has a physical correlate. Our body perceives the effects of thought and reacts accordingly.
Recommended Techniques to Reduce Anxiety
In this article, we’re going to look at several relaxation techniques that will help you reduce anxiety by becoming aware of the present moment, and with it the wholeness and happiness of being here and now.
1. Pay attention to breathing
Since ancient times, Buddhists have known the importance of paying attention to our breath to calm the mind and restore happiness. Many of these techniques later came to the West as mindfulness to help treat anxiety.
The breathing technique we are talking about offers do not try to modify your breathing; don’t try to regulate it, just observe. This is the technique known as Anapana in the Vipassana tradition of Buddhist meditation, taught thousands of years ago in the East and now also in the West.
To practice this technique, focus your attention on the nostril area, below the nose. Observe how the air goes in and out, but without wanting to change the rhythm of the breath. If you are distracted by thoughts or mental images, come back as soon as you think about taking your breath away, but without worry or frustration with distraction.
You will see that after a few minutes your mind begins to focus and your thoughts stop being so turbulent, experiencing more relaxation. You can practice with the body lying down, but it is recommended to do it seated, either on a chair or on the floor in a comfortable position.
2. Pay attention to bodily sensations
Another powerful mindfulness practice for relaxing and reducing anxiety is body scans or mindfulness of bodily sensations. This allows us to develop equanimity, that is, the ability to observe without envy or rejection what happens to us, which results in greater presence and less anxiety.
To perform this exercise, you can lie down or sit down. Starting from the top of your head or your feet, go through each part of your body with your attentiontaking large or small portions according to your comfort and from top to bottom or bottom to top.
In case thoughts grab your attention, you return to bodily sensations as soon as you realize the distraction. This method will provide you with a mental workout that can reduce anxiety or relax the body from accumulated tension. But remember: the focus should be on the body and its sensations, not on the mind. It is also important that you continue to shift your attention. After a few minutes of practice, you will see the results.
Grounding is a central technique in various Eastern and Western disciplines. It consists of allowing our feet to rest firmly on the ground and the muscles of the legs to be activated.. This connection with our lower limbs has a therapeutic effect widely explored by various practices such as Qigong (Chi Kung) or Bioenergetics.
To do this, you need to stand with your feet parallel at a distance of one hip width. In addition, it is suggested to slightly close the feet, about 5 or 10 degrees inward, to release tension in the sacral region. Then slightly bend your knees. The general rule is that they should not go past the toes.
Stay carefully in this position on the soles of the feet and legs, for about 5 minutes or more (although it can be tiring) is a great tool to “stop the mind”reduce anxiety and relax the nervous system.
At the end, you can shake your legs slightly.
From the Eastern tradition of Yoga comes another wonderful technique for relaxing the mind and reducing anxiety: pranayama or breath control.
Unlike breathing techniques, here we are looking for a regulation of the air that enters and leaves. Many studies highlight the importance of proper breathing in achieving a healthy nervous system balance and promoting a positive attitude.
There are different techniques for regulating breathing, one of the simplest is called “square breathing”, which consists of equalizing the times of inspiration, air retention, expiration and new retention. There are 4 stageseach of which must last the same amount of time.
To practice it, we sit comfortably with our backs raised, perform a total exhalation, then inhale for 4 seconds. At the end of the inspiration, we also hold for 4 seconds (you can use the index finger and the thumb to obstruct the nostrils, if desired), then we exhale for the same duration and at the end of the expiration a new take of 4 seconds is retained.
We repeat this process for several minutes, trying to make our breath completethat is, by enlarging the abdomen, ribs and chest. Then we breathe normally. No doubt you will find that this technique contributes a lot to your relaxation, calming the mind and eliminating anxiety. You can also increase or decrease the number of seconds as you see fit.
Reducing anxiety through relaxation of body and mind is possible, and above all a daily practice. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
Integrating these methodologies into your daily life, even for a few minutes, has lasting effects and considerable contributions to your psychophysical health.