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Wouldn’t it be great if we just did the things we know would be helpful to us. For example, you feel calm and relaxed after practicing progressive muscle relaxation. Abdominal breathing exercises leave you feeling confident and calm. You know that the more you practice these skills, the easier it will be to employ them in times of crisis. Yet, like most of us, the list of excuses and barriers is long.
1. “I don’t have time to relax.” You may not have assigned relaxation a high priority relative to many other activities you have scheduled.
2. “I don’t have any place to relax.” Create one. It may take some imagination. If it is important to you, you will do it.
3. “Relaxation exercises seem too slow or boring.” Slow down – it is healthy.
4. “I feel more anxious when I relax.” Start with short practice sessions and gradually increase the amount of time. The first feeling of anxiety is your cue to open your eyes. Resume your practice when the anxious feelings subside.
5. “I just don’t have the discipline.” Keep practicing until it eventually becomes a habit. If you skip a day, get back on track as soon as you can.
Deep relaxation requires a shift in attitude and lifestyle. It requires you to make your physical, mental, and emotional health a priority in your life. When your excuses override your determination to practice relaxation exercises, it may be helpful to ask yourself one or more of the following questions.
1. What is my main reason for doing these exercises?
2. Is this reason still important to me?
3. Would it be possible to change my schedule so that I can do the exercises and fulfill my other obligations?
4. If I don’t practice now, when will I do it next?
Although it may take considerable effort on your part to break these relaxation barriers, it is pretty easy to understand why your feelings of stress persist.
You may be asking yourself “why do I still have anxiety symptoms if I practice regularly?” Some people are highly suggestive and experience those bodily sensations they are thinking about. Your anxiety symptoms may be a sign that there is a situation in your life that you are not dealing with effectively. You may be using your anxiety to entice others to care for you instead of asking for help. Don’t give up. You can learn to handle stress and relax. You may want to consider additional support services if you are practicing regularly without relief. It may not be easy but you can do it.