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How to Relax Completely in 10 Seconds

Constantly feeling anxiety is a major part of the every day life for millions of individuals.  The prognosis for anxiety disorders is among the worst within the diverse families of psychopathology. From a medical perspective, treatment typically consists of prescribing benzodiazepines (e.g., lorazepam, clonazepam, diazepam), which yield substance dependence and chemical tolerance.  These medications relieve the symptoms but leave the causes untreated.  From a pure psychotherapy perspective, the prognosis for anxiety is just as bad; Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the most employed technique nowadays, targets specific ideas that trigger feelings of anxiety, but this is ineffective because of the nature of anxiety.  Unlike phobias - fears tied to specific triggers - anxiety results from persistent fear that has lost its triggers, spreading throughout the brain.  If you manipulate some ideas by frequent repetition, the anxiety resurfaces elsewhere, again because the causes are not being treated.

But not all is hopeless.  Relaxation techniques used properly and frequently both relive anxiety and rewire the very same neural networks that generate it.  Previously I posted a technique for combating anxiety in the morning by listening and singing to a specific adaptation of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.  In what follows, I will provide instructions for a shorter and way more effective relaxation technique.

How to Relax in 10 Seconds

The following technique is not well known, but it works like a charm.  You will have to stand up and adopt what I call the "Receptive Position".  This position is a variant of the so-called Anatomic Position, as shown below.

So here are the instructions for how to relax in 10 seconds with the Receptive Position:
Step 1:  Stand up straight, shoulders back but relaxed.

Step 2:  Raise your shin a little (as in a "proud" emotional stance).

Step 3:  Drop your arms to your side and completely relax all tensions that might be hiding there.

Step 4:  Make your palms face forward and try again to relax your arms. (This is the hardest part of the exercise; if it causes you some pain, you may slightly make them face a little bit towards you, so long as they are still mostly facing forward and not towards your body.)

Step 5:  Make sure your body is as free of tension as you can possibly get it to be.

Step 6:  Close your eyes.

Step 7:  Breathe deeply, counting in silence every exhalation until you reach 10. (If you are extra stressed, breathe and count each exhalation until 15.)

Step 8:  Upon counting 10 (or 15), immediately open your eyes. 

Do it!  After finishing, ask yourself - How do you feel at that precise moment?

If you are so anxious that your first attempt caused you some physical discomfort, please just do the exercise one more time.  This really does work for everyone.

Once you've learned how to do this easy procedure correctly, you know that you can always repeat it whenever anxious or overly stressed if you can find a place where you enjoy some privacy.

I hope that this exercise has provided you immediate relief.

BONUS:  You can check how anxious you are via elevating yourself by getting on the tips of your toes as you inhale, then lowering yourself during exhalation.  Be careful!  If you are anxious, you will feel that you are falling as you get on the tip of your toes (a vertigo-like feeling).  In contrast, if you are not anxious, elevating yourself in this way will not cause you any feeling of discomfort.


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