Do you have anxiety or panic attacks? Do you find that although you have anxiety, medication is not for you? Or maybe you are taking medication but want to supplement with some home exercises for anxiety to get even better results?
There are many things you can do at home to relieve your anxiety symptoms, reduce your anxiety or even prevent it. The number one key to treating or eliminating anxiety is relaxation, and the University of Michigan Health Center has released as guide explaining both why you need to learn to relax and how to do it.
The guide talks about the relaxation response; defined as “your personal ability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increases blood flow to the brain.” Drugs can to a certain extent help you achieve this, but did you know you have the ability to do it yourself without the help of drugs?
There are several different ways to achieve the relaxation response, but it’s important to understand what it is before we go into the how. When I talk about relaxation as a home exercise for anxiety, I’m not talking about taking a nap or relaxing on the couch. The relaxation we’re aiming for is a state where your body is relaxed while your mind is still alert.
Examples of relaxation techniques that you can use as home exercises for anxiety are meditation, yoga, deep breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and visual imagery. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel your anxiety evaporating immediately as you start practicing your relaxation; all of these are techniques that can be taught, and the more you practice them the better results you’ll get.
So how exactly do these home exercises for anxiety work, and which one’s the most effective? According to the University of Michigan Health Center, there is no indication that any of these techniques are superior to the rest; they all work and you can practice one, some or all of them. It’s up to you to figure out which ones suit you better.
There are a lot of different types of meditation that can help you, but practicing mindful meditation seems to be the one that has the best results on anxiety. Mindful meditation is about being completely present in the moment. When you use mindful meditation as a home exercise for anxiety, try to not focus on anything but what is happening right this second. Focus on a word or a phrase like “peace” or “I am very relaxed”, and repeat it to yourself over and over. If you have a hard time using words, you can try counting slowly or focusing on your breath. If you notice that you are “spacing” or that your mind is wondering off, just gently reel yourself back in by focusing on you “mantra” or your breath.
Yoga is also about being present in the moment. There are many different styles of yoga, and you can get DVD’s for a guided yoga class in your own home. If you are completely new to yoga, I will recommend that you attend a beginner’s yoga class to learn to do the postures correctly. This will help you get more out of your home exercises for anxiety, and you will learn to avoid injury.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation may sound complicated, but it’s really not. It’s simply put a series of exercises where you tense your muscles before you gradually relax them. The “science” behind this technique is that people with a lot of stress and anxiety in their life tend to have tense muscles even when they are resting. By tensing the muscles one area at a time and then relaxing, your muscles will not only go back to the state they were in before you tensed them, they will be more relaxed.
Visual Imagery is all about using your own imagination to distract yourself from your anxiety. If you experience bad anxiety, you may not initially believe that using your imagination can be one of the really effective home exercises for anxiety, but it really can. Visual Imagery is not just about imagining things, it about using certain techniques to activate all you senses while you are visualizing. It can take a little bit of practice to get into the visual Imagery technique, but when you do, you learn to focus all your concentration inward on your imagery and it’s a quick and easy way to beat anxiety and panic.
Deep breathing is not the same as a lot of breathing. When people are stressed or anxious they tend to breathe a lot of short shallow breaths. According to the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, shallow and fast breathing into our upper chest creates short restless brainwaves. Deep breaths into the abdomen and not just the chest creates longer, slower brainwaves, similar to the ones we have when we feel relaxed. Practicing deep breathing techniques is an easy and very effective home exercise for anxiety.