3 Practices For Emotional Release + Anxiety Relief (That You Haven't Tried Before)
When most people hear the word rest, they immediately think of taking naps or sleeping. Although these are effective ways to unwind, there are many more ways to incorporate relaxation into your day that don't involve sleep:
Practice progressive muscle relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a deep relaxation technique that teaches you how to relax your muscles by alternating between tension and relaxation in all the body's major muscle groups. By focusing on each muscle and what it feels like when tightened and relaxed, you can become more present and aware of feelings in your body.
Lie down or sit comfortably and take slow, deep breaths, allowing your body to fully relax. Begin by tightening and creating tension in your toes for about five to seven seconds. Then release the tension, causing the toes to relax. Focus on the physical sensations you are experiencing as you tighten and relax the muscles.
Work your way up your body, repeating this process for each of the major muscle groups. For example:
- On each hand and lower arm—clench your fist and tense the lower arm.
- On each lower leg and foot—point your toe and gently tense the calf muscle.
- For your abdomen—pull your abdominal muscles in tightly.
- For your lower forehead—frown and pull your eyebrows together.
To get the most out of this relaxation method, you will want to practice it daily. With consistent practice, you will notice yourself feeling a lot more relaxed in general.
Try release writing.
Release writing is a powerful tool that can give you much-needed relief and help you relax and rest. Release writing is a fast-paced "stream of consciousness" process used to dump your thoughts and feelings while writing by hand.
Most people tend to avoid their feelings because they fear them or because it's what they've been taught to do. However, avoiding and suppressing your feelings is extremely draining on your energy, and the long-term impact of this is far greater than the short-term pain you would experience by processing them.
When you suppress your negative feelings, you are storing negative energy in your body. Unexpressed sadness typically causes lethargy and depression, and unexpressed anger often manifests as anxiety and irritability.
Release writing is a simple activity that you can try in order to release these negative emotions. You simply write as fast as you can while keeping up with your thoughts as best you can. Do not analyze, judge, interpret, or go back and reread what you wrote. Just write and release!
To give it a try, begin by writing, "I feel sad because" or "I feel angry because" and then keep writing! Really allow yourself to feel the feelings as you write, and don't stop until you experience a sense of emptiness and relief. Upon completion, safely destroy the paper to release the energy entirely.
Find the silver lining in past challenges.
We've all heard the saying, "Everything happens for a reason," and although many of us do believe this to be true, during difficult times or painful experiences, we tend to forget this message altogether.
In hindsight, it's much easier to see how being dumped by a significant other, whom we felt we couldn't possibly live without, led to our being single and meeting someone who was a much better match for us, or how getting laid off from a job we really couldn't stand going to opened us up for a much better opportunity and led us down a career path that was much more aligned, fulfilling, and financially rewarding.
Take a moment now to sit and reflect on some painful things you have experienced in your life and the better things that came into your life as a result. This is a very beneficial exercise because it will help you recognize that things are usually working out for our highest good, even when it doesn't feel like it in the moment.
Developing this knowing and trust in the universe will help you rest and relax a lot more easily as you face challenges in the future.
Excerpted from THE LITTLE BOOK OF REST by Stephanie Thomas. Copyright © 2022 by Simon & Schuster Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Stephanie Thomas is a certified personal trainer, health coach, and yoga teacher who believes that creating the happy, healthy life you want can be a laid-back, realistic, and, most importantly, restful experience. The founder of Stephanie Thomas Fitness and the creator of The Bridal Body Workout Guide, Stephanie’s writing on health, fitness, and wellness has appeared on sites like MindBodyGreen, and Thrive Global. In her spare time, you can find Stephanie reading the latest health book, spending time in nature, or taking a walk with her two cavalier pups. Learn more at StephanieThomasFitness.com.