Too much stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways: an increased heart rate, tension or sleep difficulty. One of the most severe expressions of stress is agitation - feeling overwhelmed, irritable or even aggravated.
Stress and feelings of agitation are so common that between 25.8 - 44.7% (depending on age) of Australians feel stressed and in 2020-21, 15.4% of Australians experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.
Agitation can also have other medically relevant causes than stress that may need to be addressed by a general practitioner. In this article, we will explore how to address stress and agitation in a world where relaxation is easier said than done for most.
Everyone who has experienced high levels of stress and agitation recognises that these are issues to be addressed and are willing to find new ways to tackle them.
Relaxation can be a double-edged sword. There is no one-size fits all approach to what type of relaxation technique is the most effective for an individual. Research suggests that up to 15% of the population can experience relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA).
RIA is a state in which people who attempt to go through formal relaxation methods feel a rise in anxiety and stress. That is because when there is less stimulation from the outside world, some people tend to focus inward, into what is happening in their mind and body, where they recognise high levels of stress and tension, which they may not be aware otherwise.
Outside of RIA, there can be a myriad of reasons why relaxation is a cause of stress rather than a mitigating factor of stress. For people who struggle with relaxation and de-stressing, it is important to know that you are not alone and that there are ways to manage stress levels effectively.
Relaxation techniques are skills to be developed like any other. That means efficiency increases substantially with practice. Also, there are so many passive and active relaxation techniques, and you can find one that suits your personal preferences.
We have explored a range of relaxation techniques and encourage you to keep trying until you find a practice that resonates with you. It is important to remember that relaxation itself is not a contest. Approaching it with lower expectations and without pressure but with kindness can help get started and finding the most suitable technique.
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