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Beat Stress by Practicing This Relaxation Technique

 We are living in an extremely stressful time. The coronavirus pandemic continues triggering fear, stress, frustration, and anxiety in people everywhere. It has taken an emotional toll on all of us. People with preexisting anxiety disorders are finding it harder and harder to cope with the ongoing mental stress and uncertainly caused by the pandemic. Learning how to manage our stress is now more important than ever. 
Many effective and well-known relaxation exercises can help you cope with stress – from meditation and yoga to progressive muscle relaxation. One of the most comprehensive self-help approaches aimed at reducing anxiety is called autogenic training.
Autogenic training is a wonderful relaxation technique that helps focus your mind on positive feelings and allows your body to relax and de-stress. It was first introduced by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz in 1932.
Autogenic Training, breathe easy
Schultz noticed that people experiencing hypnosis tend to enter a relaxed state where they feel calm and at ease. The psychiatrist then tried to recreate a similar state in people to help lessen their anxieties and stress.  

How Does Autogenic Training Work?

Autogenic training works by repeating a series of statements about calmness and warmth in different parts of the body. It can be used for managing the symptoms of anxiety and promotes a positive effect on the nervous system. A 2008 study found that relaxation exercises like autogenic training can be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety.

Health experts say that practicing autogenic training regularly can also help manage daily stress and even panic attacks. In fact, mental health professionals are using this terrific relaxation exercise in counseling sessions to help people combat their feelings of extreme anxiety. 

How to Practice Autogenic Training

Autogenic Training, relax
Practicing autogenic training is quite easy. Before you begin, though, make a few preparations. Firstly, find a quiet place where you are alone. Lie on a chair or sofa. Even the floor will work. If you have a garden, you can lie down there, too. Make yourself comfortable and rest your hands on the chair or at your sides. Make sure that you remove glasses, contacts, or any tight clothing before you start the training session.
Now, follow these step-by-step instructions:
* Start by taking a few slow, even breaths. Once you have arrived at a steady pattern of breathing, quietly tell yourself, "I am completely calm." Don’t think about anything else. Just keep repeating this sentence to yourself a few times quietly, and you should start feeling a little more relaxed.
* Now, focus your attention on different parts of your body. For example, you can start with your arm and say, “My arm is very warm. I am completely calm,” to yourself. Repeat this six or seven times. Make sure that your breathing is slow and controlled. Do the same thing with your other arm and the legs.
* Next, shift your attention to your heartbeat. Keeping your breathing slow and steady, and tell yourself, "My breathing is calm and regular." And then say, “I am completely calm.” Now, continue the same process with the other parts of your body like the abdomen, the chest, and even the forehead ("My forehead is pleasantly cool”). Whenever you focus on each part, make sure that you stress the words “relaxed,” “cool,” or “warm” in your sentences. Always end with the lines "I am completely calm,” whenever you are focusing on each part of the body. 
* Let the feelings of warmth, calmness, heaviness, and relaxation sweep over you. Close your eyes and savor those feelings. Once you feel you are ready to get up, tell yourself quietly, “Eyes open. Breathe deeply.”
Autogenic Training, stress free
In addition to these steps, you can also try listening to a voice recording with directions, preferably in headphones. This will allow you to simply focus on the technique without having to repeat the sentences yourself. The video below might be helpful.
Try practicing autogenic training for a few weeks, and you should start noticing a difference in your mental state. If you feel no reduction in your feelings of anxiety, stress, frustration, or sadness, despite practicing autogenic training for weeks, it’s probably time to try something else or see a mental health professional that can assess your situation better.
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