THE SELF-MANAGEMENT OF ANXIETY: HOW TO DO THE

EXERCISES-DIFFICULTIES IN ATTAINING PHYSICAL RELAXATION

The difficulties in attaining relaxation of the body are not great. But I think it wise to mention various difficulties that different people have experienced. Then if you find that you have similar problems you will at least know that others have also experienced them, and have overcome them without too much trouble.

The most common difficulty in learning to relax is undoubtedly the simple reluctance of many people to try it. I have had so many people say to me, “I really did not think that this would be any good for me, but you talked me into trying it, and now I am already feeling much easier in myself.”

Another difficulty, as I have pointed out, is the simplicity of the procedure. Some people find it hard to believe that anything so simple and so natural could help them when they have already tried dozens of tablets and injections without effect. Do not forget that you too, by the very

culture that surrounds you, have been at least partially conditioned into this pattern of thinking.

Restlessness may be a difficulty. We sit down ready to start, and we immediately find we want to move about. We fidget. We move a leg and then an “arm. Then we are aware that our clothes are uncomfortable, and we move again. Restlessness like this is only an initial difficulty. If you have this trouble, make yourself as comfortable as you can. Use cushions; lie on a soft bed—anything that appeals to you as making you comfortable. Then do your relaxation; but do it only for a very short period—two or three minutes. After that have a rest and a stretch, and then do it again. Soon the phase of restlessness will pass, and then you can move into doing the exercises in more uncomfortable positions.

The feeling of physical discomfort in some part of our body may cause difficulty in relaxation. We become aware of our leg. It is uncomfortable. It is beginning to hurt, and we feel we want to move it. At this stage, instead of moving it, concentrate on relaxing more completely. In spite of the discomfort we bring ourselves to let go more completely. We do this. We let ourselves go through the discomfort, as it were. The discomfort passes, and we relax more easily.

Sometimes a trembling of the muscles makes relaxation difficult. This is only a worry at the very start, and it soon passes. It is most common in the eyelids and the muscles around the eyes. In fact, some trembling of the eyelids would seem to be the general rule in the initial phases, and is of no consequence at all.

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