Living with an Anxiety Disorder means relaxing is…difficult. My mental state tends to move towards stress and negatives a lot faster than I make progress in the other direction and so it’s not just a case of kicking back and chilling out with me. I wish I could. But instead, it takes a bit of extra effort on my part. Here are the 6 main ways I try to relax and de-stress.
1| Stop and Release
The first way I relax is to “stop and release”. People with AD’s generally carry a lot of tension in our bodies – often without realising. I make sure to pause every so often throughout the day and release my muscles. If I have a little bit of time I’ll follow a little routine I learned back in therapy where you do a ‘walkthrough’ of your body and visualise the tension leaving each part. Taking a few moment to stop, center yourself, take some deep breathes, and loosen your tension can do wonders for your mind and body.
Yoga was something I wanted to try for a long time but I always came up with a reason to not start. Once I got going, I realised what I’d been missing out on. Yoga helps me both physically and mentally de-stress and it’s actually really great exercise. I’m not the bendiest person by any means and my fitness level means I have to take a break or two during more strenuous routines but I’ve never finished a session not feeling like it was worth it. And since I just use YouTube videos it’s a totally free solution!
3| Get outside and find something beautiful
I started practicing photography when I was maybe 14 or 15 and it was instantly a feeling that I’d find my place, my thing. One of my favourite things to do is to get out in nature and take close up photos, of plants especially. I think it’s that feeling of connecting and focusing that appeals to me, it helps me block out the anxiety and concentrate solely on the good. Plus, there’s a whole host of recorded health benefits to being out in nature.
Meditation is something I’ve used the longest – my therapist started me off with some guided meditations that helped me keep calm in the moment and this impacted on my overall progress in recovery. Meditation is about deeply connecting with yourself and finding peace so it’s benefits for relaxation and de-stressing are obvious.
My life changed when I found ASMR videos. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about: ASMR stands for “Autonomous sensory meridian response”. It’s basically a physical response to sound and other stimuli, characterised by tingling and relaxing feelings. A lot of people use ASMR videos for relaxation and even to help them fall asleep and for me it works so incredibly well. The videos help me to relax in on one sound or feeling – a lot like a guided meditation. If you’re not sure where to get started – check out this page on various common triggers.
6| I Treat Myself and make time for Me
Sometimes you just have to put your PJs on, get a cup of hot chocolate, and watch some Netflix. I don’t let myself feel guilty for taking time for myself and you shouldn’t either. For a long time I worked myself to exhaustion because that’s what you do. Deciding to balance out my time was such a positive choice in my life. Have a long, hot bath. Take a walk in the middle of nowhere. Have a lie-in. Do whatever connects you to you and makes you feel good.
Let me know how you relax in the comments!