People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often struggle with frequent and intense symptoms of anxiety. These strong symptoms of anxiety often lead people with PTSD to rely on unhealthy ways of coping, such as through drug or alcohol use.1
Fortunately, there are a number of healthy ways of coping with anxiety. These strategies may help reduce the intensity of anxiety, lessen its frequency, and/or make it more tolerable.
It may sound silly, but many people do not breathe properly. Natural breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall.
Over time, people forget how to breathe this way and instead use their chest and shoulders. This causes short and shallow breaths, which can increase stress and anxiety.
Fortunately, it is quite possible to re-learn how to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and help protect yourself from stress.2 Practice simple deep breathing exercises to improve your breathing and combat anxiety.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Using relaxation exercises can be an effective way to reduce your stress and anxiety.3 Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on alternating between tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body. This relaxation method is similar to a pendulum. Complete relaxation of your muscles can be obtained by first going to the other extreme (that is, by tensing your muscles).
In addition, by tensing your muscles (a common symptom of anxiety) and immediately relaxing them, the symptom of muscle tension may become a signal to relax over time.4
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