What Works for Me

Blog Post created by Thomas3.20.2010 on Dec 17, 2016

September, 2015 I published this Blog about Driving. It comes to mind today because the Weather is frightful especially for driving for most of us right now!


Hi, Folks!

Those who follow me know that I am on a quest to lower my Anxiety. Although not there yet I came across a very helpful technique. I call it relaxing into tension.

Today I was doing a shoulder bridge exercise which is a core builder (Pilates.) My Pilates Instructor, Ali, taught me that once I got into position that I could actually maintain the position and relax at the same time! So I’m holding this shoulder bridge for 5 minutes which would be impossible if I tensed up! But relaxed I feel like I could do it forever! I imagine myself floating in position, focus on relaxed deep breathing and do a muscle relaxation starting with my head and working down to my feet never changing or letting go of the position – just the tension.

This is something that I intend to apply with Anxiety. Here’s how I envision it:

One thing I find stressful is traffic. If you’re like me back in the day when I smoked, the worse the traffic the more I was compelled to smoke a Sickerette! Even in inclement weather I’d be white knuckling down a rainy or snowy road but with the window cracked and only one hand on the steering wheel – the other had a Sickerette going and instead of both eyes on the road, I’d be attending to my burning Sickerette so I could take another puff or light up another Death Stick. Distracted driving when you least need it!

5 Smoke FREE Years later, I still find traffic a stressful event. I get anxious about such things as “Will I make it to work on time?” and in true Anxiety Disorder fashion I start with the “What ifs…….”

-What if I’m late?

-Will I get fired?

-Will I lose my job?

-Will my Wife divorce me because I’m unemployed?

-Will my Sons avoid their ‘loser Dad’?

- Will I become sick, alone and homeless?

Yadayadayada – all because I might be late once to work!

That’s ANXIETY for you!

Not the best way to drive a car in challenging circumstances!

So how do I relax into the tension?

First, I can hold my position.

-Eyes on the road, both hands on the steering wheel, foot on the gas but ready to switch to the break if necessary, etc….

Then I can focus on my breathing.

- Slow it down and deepen it up, breathing all the way down to my belly, holding for a count of 4 and exhaling for as long as possible with pursed lips.

-Next apply Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

 Once I have that mastered, I can relax into the tension of my head, neck, chest, arms, fingers, belly, legs and feet.

I haven’t changed my position of readiness but I have changed my physiology. I can now address my tension with alert readiness instead hypervigilance!

By jumping into the stress cycle from a physiological point my mind can follow. I can then see more clearly that I can be ready without excessive tension! And if I do have to react to a car sliding or debris in the road or whatever, I can do it more calmly and efficiently than hypervigilance allows.

And by focusing on the moment I don’t have space in my head to play the “What if” tapes!

When we quit smoking, some of us find it very stressful! Those of us who suffer from Anxiety and/or Depression may cognitively know that Nicotine Recovery eventually relieves stress but how do we get from here to there?

Why  not try relaxing into your stress?

Remember the 3 Steps.

- Maintain your position – Keep ‘em away from your Face!


- And Relax your Muscles from Head to Toe!

It has worked for me and it might work for you!


Update: Anxiety is barely existent in my Life today. It makes it's appearance but it's not so overwhelming and doesn't last long. Even in the midst of a Panic Attack I know that I am more powerful than the imagined threat!

Even driving home last night was not a Big Deal!