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Anxiety reduction techniques are skills that are taught by a therapist to help an individual overcome anxiety, stress, and tension. Anxiety can be experienced in a variety of ways including tension, worry, and nervousness, and can occur in thoughts or experienced as bodily senations. The techniques to reduce anxiety can include relaxation, visualization and imagery, diaphragmatic breathing, stress inoculation, and meditation.
Progressive relaxation can be useful in reducing muscle tension. Engaging in relaxation may help to improve a person's energy level, depression, and anxiety, as well as a person's ability to retrieve information from memory.
By engaging in the positive thinking often associated with visualization and imagery, a person can create a clearer image of what he or she wants to accomplish. By repeating the image again and again, the person comes to expect what he or she wants will occur. As a result, the person will often begin to act in a way more consistent with accomplishing the goal.
Sufficient amounts of air reach the lungs, which purifies and oxygenates the blood. Waste products in the blood are removed, and organs and tissues become nourished.
A person will have more realistic views of stressful and anxiety-producing situations in his or her life. The person will be able to relax away tension by effectively thinking useful coping thoughts rather than negative interpretations of situations.
As people learn to meditate, they often discover that they have some control over the thoughts that come to their minds, as opposed to feeling as though thoughts "pop" into their heads. Many people begin to recognize dysfunctional patterns of thought and perceptions that have influenced their lives. Additionally, many people report a greater ability to manage their emotions and gain a greater sense of stability. When a person meditates, he or she often suppresses the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that activates the body for emergencies and activities. Meditation also lowers a person's metabolism, heart, and breathing rates. Additionally, meditation decreases the chemical in the body often associated with stress.
Author Info: Keith Beard Psy.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, 2003
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