The first time I ever learned a relaxation technique I was in a psychiatric hospital. This must have been, ooooh at least twenty years ago now.
Doug, who was the Activity Therapist, had us all go into a quiet, dark, room (he had turned off the lights), grab a floor mat, and find a space on the carpeted floor. It’s weird, remembering it now. Some of us lay on our tummies, some on our backs, our sides with our knees pulled up. All the while, Doug just said to get comfortable.
Then he told us to close our eyes and quiet our breathing as much as we could. He put on a tape. I still remember it to this day. It was about walking down a staircase, and the further down you went, the more relaxed you felt. Until, at the very end of the stairs we came out into this gorgeous meadow of flowers.
When it was over, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to open my eyes, and I certainly didn’t want to come back to the “real world.” Happily, Doug gave us each copies of that tape.
Relaxation is so very important for anxiety, and especially helpful to panic attacks.
Well, I don’t think it’s any secret that I have social anxiety disorder. I’ve shared my problems with just going out to get the mail during daylight hours, and that’s purely about being judged and found wanting. It’s a deep-seated fear; I don’t know exactly when it began or how it got so big. I only know I wish it would go away.
I usually avoid situations that I find too incredibly difficult. I learned this as a young child, when I would hide in my bedroom during large family gatherings, like Thanksgiving, or Christmas. It didn’t always work, but sometimes it did.
Today I do little experiments. I started the crochet meetup. It failed miserably. Groups like that don’t work if no one shows up ha ha ha. But I did take a chance, and I put myself out there. I do other things, like once I went to Panera and sat in one of their comfortable chairs and just crocheted for a while. Of course, all the while, my mind was going 90 to nothin’. “Is that man looking at me? Why is he looking at me that way? People do needlework in Panera all the time. This is not that unusual. Do I have something on my shirt? If I move now, and look down at my shirt, surely I will look like a total idiot. Stay calm. Maybe he’s not looking at me. Maybe he’s looking in my general direction and it just feels like he’s looking at me.”
You can see how it can get pretty exhausting. And that was just one person.
Hope you have a great rest of the day.