The Relaxation Response – how to feel calmer and sleep better

Anxiety and insomnia are, unfortunately, very common in modern life. We’re constantly on alert from various devices, much of our work involves looking at screens, and few of us take enough time out amongst nature and do enough truly restorative things to redress the balance. It all makes for an overstimulated mind and body, which over a sustained period of time can have devastating effects for our health.

One of my offerings at the moment is a Yoga Therapy for Anxiety workshop. In it, we explore ways to manage anxiety when it happens, and even better, learn how to help it happen less frequently and less severely. My clients leave with tools for when they feel anxiety arising and so are able to catch it before it escalates too far. They have tools to reduce baseline anxiety, so that with practice they feel less anxious, less often. These tools are their pathway to freedom from excessive anxiety. They also learn about what’s actually happening in their bodies when they experience anxiety or panic attacks – understanding what’s going on is a crucial factor in managing it. It’s proving to be a popular workshop, and as I’ve had interest from people in other countries I’m planning to create an online version later this year!

In the same way as ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain’, what’s good for anxiety is also good for insomnia. Both conditions arise as a consequence of a disproportionate and / or sustained response from a branch of the nervous system commonly known as ‘fight or flight’. Happily, we have the power to consciously over-ride this response by engaging its opposite: the ‘relaxation response’, and the ways in which we can do this are what I teach my clients.

This resource which I recently discovered from sleep researchers Tuck Sleep, does a great job of explaining the responses in relation to insomnia, and they also offer some great ideas about the best meditation and mindfulness practices to help you improve your sleep patterns. If less than optimal sleep is an issue for you, I highly recommend a read, and if you’d like to try out the progressive relaxation practice that’s mentioned, you can find my free recording of it here. Get ready to experience a more relaxed and better rested you!

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