Many people find it difficult to relax during stressful times, possibly because of the physical effects that anxiety stimulates. Some simple techniques can help you take control of your body and will allow you to relax.
When we are anxious our breathing becomes shallow and we breathe in for longer than we breathe out. This stimulates our autonomic nervous system - preparing us for fight or flight. Breathing slowly and breathing out for longer than we breathe in stimulates our sympathetic nervous system - which makes us relax.
1. Sit in an upright position looking straight ahead. You can close your eyes if it helps you to concentrate.
2. Put one palm on your navel, when you breathe in you should feel your hand rise as your stomach swells. If you do not feel this, try to make the next breaths go down into your stomach. It may take a while to get this right, don't worry with practice it will become natural.
3. Breathe deeply in through your nose to the count of 7 then out through your nose again to the count of 11.
4. Continue to do this for 5 - 10 minutes and you should feel yourself beginning to relax. Concentrate on keeping your breathing slow and counting your breaths in and out.
If you practice these exercises a couple of times a day (one of these before you go to bed) you will gradually find it easier to relax. In time, when faced with stressful situations you will be able to call on these techniques immediately and be better able to manage your anxiety.
Some people find listening to Relaxation podcasts can also help them to relax. You can find some of these at http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/relax/