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No anxiety, no fear, no insomnia, feel your calm

How to overcome anxiety about uncertainty?

How to overcome anxiety about uncertainty?

 Medically reviewed by Jeevika Yu, written by Athena Gray. Reading Time: 6 minutes

How to overcome anxiety about uncertainty?

 Anxiety arises for many reasons, including muscle tension, negative self-talk, and false beliefs about one's life.

Thoughts, behaviors, and the brain interact with each other. I'll share practical methods today to relieve anxiety by practicing both physically and mentally and by adhering to them for effective stress management.

1. Relax the body

Although it feels like anxiety exists only in the mind when people become anxious, anxiety also reacts to the body, and its muscles will tighten. When the body muscles are tight, it makes people more anxious, leading to a vicious cycle.

In 1929, Dr. Edmund Jacobsen discovered that relaxing muscles could effectively relieve anxiety, for which he invented the “Progressive Muscle Relaxation”.

The mind is not anxious when the body is relaxed,” Jacobson said.

Later on, I will share with you the steps of the specific exercises. First, let's look at the principles of the practice.

Image source :Pixabay

01. Principles of “Progressive Muscle Relaxation” exercises

  1. Practice at least 20 minutes a day. You will feel the effect after 2-3 weeks of consistent practice.
  2. The exercises need to be done in a quiet environment. Do not let cell phones and surrounding noises disturb you and distract you.
  3. Practice every day at a fixed time on an empty stomach. Usually, it is best to practice in the morning just after waking up, at night before going to bed, or before eating.
  4. Remove jewelry, watches, glasses, and other items from your body and wear lightweight clothing.
  5. Focus your attention on your muscles and experience the relaxation process awake to avoid falling asleep.

02. Exercise steps of “Progressive Muscle Relaxation”

We choose a quiet place, lie down comfortably and follow the steps below to practice. A complete set of exercises takes about 20 minutes.

You can also practice it with relaxation music together for better results.

In the beginning, if we are not familiar with the whole practice process, we can record the following steps as audio in advance and follow the steps according to the guidance of the audio during the practice.

Practice steps :

  1. Take three deep abdominal breaths, exhale slowly, and imagine the tension in your whole body starting to flow away from your body as you exhale.
  2. Clench your fist, hold it for 7-10 seconds, and then unclench it for 15-20 seconds. Relax the other muscle groups at the same intervals.
  3. Raise your forearms with both hands, bring your forearms and upper arms as close together as possible, tense your biceps, hold ...... and then relax.
  4. Extend your arms outward to a horizontal position with both hands, extend your elbows and tense your triceps (the muscles on the back of your upper arms), hold ...... then relax.
  5. Raise your eyebrows as high as possible, contract your forehead muscles, hold ...... and then relax. When relaxing, imagine the forehead muscles slowly stretching and relaxing.
  6. Close your eyes tightly, tense the muscles around your eyes, hold ...... and then relax. Imagine the feeling of deep relaxation spreading around the eyes.
  7. Open your mouth wide, stretch the muscles around your jaw joint, tense your jaw, hold ...... and then relax. Open your mouth and let your jaw relax naturally.
  8. Tilt your head back and lean back as far as possible, tighten the muscles at the back of your neck, focus on the action of tightening the neck muscles, hold ...... then relax. The muscles at the back of the neck are often under tension, so it is best to do this "contraction - relaxation" activity twice. Be careful to do this step to move gently to avoid muscle injury. 
  9. Take several deep breaths. Pay attention to feeling the weight of the head.
  10. Shrug both shoulders upward at the same time to the maximum, tense the shoulder muscles, keep ...... and then relax. 
  11. Abduct both shoulders, lean as far as possible toward the midline of the back, and tense the muscles around the shoulder blades. Keep the muscles at the scapulae taut ...... then relax. Because the muscles at the scapula are often tense, you can repeat the "contraction - relaxation" activity twice.
  12. Inhale deeply, tense your chest muscles, hold for 10 seconds ...... and then exhale slowly. Imagine that the excessive tension in the chest flows away with the exhalation of the breath. 
  13. Tighten your abdomen, tighten your abdominal muscles, hold for ...... and then relax. Imagine a feeling of relaxation throughout the core.
  14. Arch your back, tighten your lower back muscles, hold ...... and then relax. If you have lower back pain, you can omit this part of the exercise.
  15. Tighten the hips, hold ...... and then relax. Imagine the gluteal muscles slowly relaxing and loosening. 
  16. Contract the thigh muscles, hold ...... and then relax. Feel the thigh muscles completely stretching and relaxing. The thigh muscles are connected to the pelvis, so you must tense your glutes while contracting the thigh muscles.
  17. Stretch your toes hard in your direction, tense your calf muscles, hold ...... and then relax. Be careful when doing this action to avoid cramps.
  18. Curl up your toes, tense the surface of your feet, hold ...... and then relax.
  19. Feel if your body is still tense, and repeat the "contraction - relaxation" activity 1-2 times for the parts that still feel tense.
  20. Now, imagine that the relaxation slowly spreads throughout your body, from your head to your feet, gradually penetrating every muscle

Image source :Pixabay

2. Relax the spirit

Anxiety will speed up the brain's thinking, and the mind will appear with all kinds of ideas, leading to more anxiety. So, relaxing the mind can also be a good way to relieve anxiety.

Meditation can calm us down completely and produce a significant relaxation effect. Next, I'll share a meditation practice.

01 Principles of "meditation" practice

  1. Choose a quiet environment.
  2. Choose a comfortable sitting posture, with your neck and back naturally kept straight. There are two sitting postures to choose from :
  • A. Eastern way: Sit cross-legged on the floor and use a cushion or pillow under your buttocks. Hands on the thighs, body slightly leaning forward, so that the thighs and buttocks together bear the weight of the body.
  • B. Western way: sit comfortably on a straight reclining chair with your feet touching the ground, legs not crossed, and hands-on your thighs.
  1. Practice at least 10 minutes a day.
  2.  Avoid practicing on a full stomach or when you are tired.

02 Steps of "Counting Breath Meditation" practice

  1. Sit quietly and focus on your breath. Each time you exhale, count backward from 20 to 0. Then start from the beginning and repeat the process over and over again.
  2. Focus on the matter of breathing and counting.
  3. After practicing counting breath meditation for a while, you can stop counting and focus on inhalation and exhalation. The purpose of counting is to help focus attention.

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