Many people find yoga and meditation to be useful ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Picture: Pexels
Many people find yoga and meditation to be useful ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Picture: Pexels

Relaxation hacks for coping in a time of uncertainty

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Apr 20, 2020

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As the national lockdown continues, many people are starting to feel more anxious and even nervous about what lies ahead when the restrictions are lifted. The uncertainty about the future of work, stresses placed on families and finances is a reality for many.
 
Clinical psychologist Dessy Tzoneva says: "It’s natural to feel worried and overwhelmed about our safety and wellbeing. So if you’re feeling concerned about the coronavirus, you're not alone. Yet, for some of us, this concern can quickly grow into anxiety, even panic. Hearing about shortages of hand sanitizer, people stocking their homes with food, and the number of deaths worldwide only fuels this fire." 

The anxiety many people are feeling about Covid-19 can be magnified in those who are most vulnerable to being infected. 

Adults over 60 and those with underlying conditions are constantly hearing that they are at higher risk of infection and getting dangerously sick from the coronavirus. And at the same time, experts are recommending self-care, anxiety management and relaxation methods for those who are at greater risk.

One way to cope, is to invoke the "relaxation response" through a technique first developed at the Harvard Medical School. It’s the work of cardiologist Dr Herbert Benson, who is also the editor of the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. 

The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It's a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.

Here are some of the relaxation techniques and strategies used to reduce stress and anxiety.

Progressive muscle relaxation

According to a 2015 study on Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) improves anxiety and depression of pulmonary arterial hypertension patients and is an effective anxiety-reducing technique that involves decreasing the tension throughout your body while calming any anxious thoughts.

PMR involves tightening and releasing various muscle groups to lessen bodily tension. By focusing your attention on letting go of stress throughout the body, you are also able to quiet and calm your mind. When practiced over time, PMR can help you recognize when your muscles are constricted and more easily release physical discomfort that is contributing to your anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation

Many people find yoga and meditation to be useful ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Harvard Health Publishing says this practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future. This form of meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. Research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.

Meditation can be used alone or as part of yoga practice and is also a great way to assist you in feeling more balanced, calm, and focused

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