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In general, after engaging in these anxiety reduction techniques, many people report an increased sense of well-being and relaxation. People have a greater sense of control, and confidence in their coping abilities. This results in a decreased need to fear or avoid stressful situations.

Relaxation or progressive relaxation

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.

Visualization and imagery

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.

Diaphragmatic breathing

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.

Stress inoculation

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.

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Once a person begins to implement these anxiety y reduction techniques effectively, he or she may discover e old or hidden psychological pain. The person may feel U

angry, frightened, or depressed, and it may be beneficial ti for him or her to talk to a friend, mental health profes- =

sional, or meditation teacher. ec h

Some individuals have difficulty with various 5. aspects of the different techniques. For example, people e may feel restless when first learning how to meditate, or they may feel as though a thousand thoughts are running through their minds. However, with practice and assistance from a trained professional, these difficulties will subside. People who feel frustrated or discouraged may simply need to find ways to make the practice of these techniques more comfortable. As is the case with many other skills, effectively reducing anxiety with these techniques requires patience and practice. If an individual does not consistently practice these techniques, the benefits will probably not be obtained.

Resources books

Bourne, Edmund. The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. 3rd ed.

Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2001. Davis, Martha, Matthew McKay, and Elizabeth Robbins

Eshelman. The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook. 5th ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2000. Fanning, P. Visualization for Change. Oakland, CA: New

Harbinger, 1988. Huffman, Karen. "Stress and Health Psychology." In

Psychology in Action. 6th ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2002. Meichenbaum, D. Stress Inoculation Training. New York:

Plenum Press, 1985. Meichenbaum, D., and R. Cameron. "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy." In Contemporary Behavior Therapy: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations, edited by G. T. Wilson, and C. M. Franks. New York: Guilford, 1982. McKay, Matthew, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning.

Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life. 2nd ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 1998. Morris, Charles, G. and Albert A. Maisto. Psychology: An Introduction. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.


American Psychiatric Association. 1400 K Street NW,

Washington, D.C. 20005. <>. American Psychological Association. 750 1st St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. (202) 336-5500. <>.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America, Inc. 11900 TS Parklawn Drive, Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20852. (301)

231-9350. <>. The National Institute of Mental Health, 5600 Fischers Lane, Room 15C05, Rockville, MD 20857. (301) 443-4513. <>. The National Mental Health Association. 1201 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2971.

Keith Beard, Psy.D.

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