Anxiety, depression & the benefits of relaxation

It is probably accurate to say that most of us were not taught the benefits of relaxation, or even learnt about relaxation in our childhoods or at school. And yet study after study is now demonstrating that finding ways to relax have an important role to play in the way we cope with anxiety, depression and the general joys and sorrows of our lives. When you are relaxed your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure can lower. Your breathing slows down and your stomach can digest food more easily. The stress hormones reduce and your mind becomes more relaxed and your muscles release their tight grip. Concentration and mood improve and sleep quality can improve. Anger and frustration start to clear and your mind is more spacious and can problem solve more easily.

When we think of relaxation the obvious form is meditation, and yes meditation can be beneficial to many people.   And yet meditation is only one form of relaxation. Anything which keeps you gently focused for any length of time can be a form of relaxation. Running, walking, dancing, writing, poetry, and drawing are just a few examples of activities that can focus the mind. And for each individual the activity to help you to relax will probably be different. What activities help you to focus your mind? Focusing your mind away from your troubles, even for 5 minutes, can give your mind and body a welcome respite, creating space for clear thoughts to arrive and for problem solving to start. And when you are feeling particularly stressed, physically slowing your speech down and slowing your walking pace can also help you to feel more grounded and at ease.

Sometimes it can be really difficult to think about taking time out of your busy day to relax as the to-do list is long and time feels short. When you’re struggling with the actual thought of putting time aside for relaxation, you might like to think of it as medicine you are giving yourself, much like the pill you take from the doctor or the vitamin supplement you take in the morning. In this case you are the one giving yourself the medicine and gaining control back in your life. It can be a very empowering concept to know that you are enhancing your own well-being. And sometimes when relaxation is not quite enough to deal with anxiety and depression, it might be beneficial to talk to an impartial person like a counsellor who can help support you in the process of learning to relax.

In these times of fear and worry, come and share your anxiety and stress, depression, bereavement, relationship challenges, anger, sadness and mental health issues with the impartial, fully registered and trained psychotherapist Sue Holdsworth, BA Hons, MBACP.  And from the 1st June, Sue  is moving to the relaxing environment within ‘Scents of Spirit’, Studio 5, at the Fairground Craft and Design Centre, Weyhill, Andover, SP11 0QN.

‘It is nice finding that place where you can just go and relax’ Moises Ariss