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Releasing Anxiety in 3 Quick Steps

Anxiety: "a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness" (Medline Plus). The accumulation of stress, restlessness, and racing, worried thoughts. How do you calm your mind? How do you still your shaking hands and legs? In three quick steps, you will be able to achieve a state of relaxation in a matter of a few minutes.

Step 1. Stop & Breathe

As simple as this technique may sound, we often get to caught up in our busy lives and the endless list of tasks to complete that we forget to take a breather sometimes. Deep breathing helps simulates the parasympathetic system in our body, which r

Pause for a moment:

  • Take a deep inhale through your nose, slowly filling your lungs, and notice your chest expand

  • Hold your breath as the air fills to the top of your lungs for one second longer

  • Release the air by exhaling slowly through your mouth

  • Repeat this breathing cycle x5

Use a visional breathing guide, such as the Calm Breathing Bubble, to help with slowing down your breath.

Step 2. Apply Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique recommended by psychologists for individuals who struggle with anxiety. It involves a series of repetitive tension and relaxation for each muscle group throughout the body. PMR can be done anywhere, at any time.

  • Sit or lay down in a comfortable position

  • Starting with your face, scrunch up your facial muscles for 3, 2, 1 and release (repeat x2)

  • Move to your chest, shoulders, and arms: tense each muscle and feel the stiffness travel throughout your upper body for 3, 2, 1 and release (repeat x2)

  • Next, focus on your torso, legs, and feet: tense each muscle and feel the stiffness travel throughout your upper body for 3, 2, 1 and release (repeat x2)

  • Take a moment to feel the physical difference in your body now that you are in a calmer state of relaxation.

Use a guided PMR video that allows you to listen to the speaker's steps and follow along to the activity in real-time.

Step 3. Visualization

If you don't have time to experience a full meditation activity, close your eyes for a few minutes and visual. Focus on visualizing an ideal setting that is most calming for you. This setting looks different for each person so try to imagine the people or items you love in this scene. Apply the imaginary illusion of each of your five senses in the visualization. Example:

  • Picture yourself at the beach. You're staring out at the blue waves and the bright blue sky.

  • Imagine yourself listening to the soft crash of the waves as it hits the sand, the whistling of the wind, and the squeals of the sea gulls from a distance.

  • Imagine yourself feeling a warm breeze drift over your body brushing through your hair and clothing.

  • You open your mouth and taste a bit of salt in the air perhaps.

  • You smell the lingering scent of sunscreen on your skin and the fresh sea air.

Use a short guided meditation and visualization if you have the time.

Anxiety can interfere with our concentration and ability to successfully complete tasks to the best of our ability. When you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, apply these three simple steps to get your mindset in a calm space before diving into your activities again. You will notice that productivity is at its greatest peak when your body is calm, collected, and rested.

References:,before%20making%20an%20important%20decision. (Progressive muscle relaxation technique) (Guided Meditation and Visualization for Stress Relief: A Forest Walk)

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