We all know the feeling of relaxation. After a long day at work or a hectic week, we finally get a chance to sit down and relax. We take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. But for some people, relaxation can actually cause anxiety. This is known as relaxation-induced anxiety.
Relaxation-induced anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. It happens when we focus too much on relaxation and worry about not being able to relax. This can lead to feeling tense and anxious, instead of relaxed.
Relaxation-induced anxiety is common in individuals who are high achievers or perfectionists. They may have difficulty relaxing because they feel like they need to be doing something productive all the time.
It can be caused by a number of things, including stress, extra time on your hands, or even something as simple as too much caffeine. The good news is that relaxation-induced anxiety is highly treatable, and there are a number of simple things you can do to get rid of it for good.
So if you’re feeling anxious after a relaxation session, don’t worry – help is on the way.
What Is Relaxation-Induced Anxiety?
Relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA) is a form of anxiety that can be triggered by relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. RIA is often characterized by an increase in worry, racing thoughts, and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and dizziness.
While relaxation techniques are typically used to reduce stress and anxiety, RIA can occur when the mind perceives relaxation as a threat. In some cases, RIA may be associated with underlying conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD.
However, it can also occur in individuals who do not have a history of anxiety. If you experience RIA, it is important to speak with a mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
Why Is My Anxiety Worse When I Relax?
Relaxation is supposed to be good for you, right? It lowers your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. So why is it that relaxation can actually make your anxiety worse?
For some people, relaxation can actually trigger what’s called relaxation-induced anxiety. It’s when the very act of relaxing makes you feel more anxious. Relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA) is a condition where the mind and body are in such a state of relaxation that anxiety symptoms start to creep in.
It’s believed that RIA is caused by a mix of factors, including genetics, temperament, and learned behavior. For some people, relaxation is simply not a restful experience.
And that can lead to feeling more anxious, not less.
There are a few different theories about why this happens. One theory is that when you’re used to being in a state of high alert, relaxation can feel strange and uncomfortable. Another theory is that relaxation reminds you of times when you’ve been in danger or felt threatened.
Relaxation can also be a sign that you’re not doing anything to deal with your anxiety, which can make it feel like it’s taking over your life.
Relaxation-Induced Anxiety Symptoms
Relaxation-induced anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, both physical and mental. Some common symptoms include:
- Feeling jumpy or restless
- Having a hard time staying still
- Feeling agitated
- Feeling keyed up
- Feeling tense all over
- Feeling like your mind is going a million miles an hour
- Struggling to focus or concentrate
- Feeling like you can’t shut off your thoughts
- Having trouble sleeping or staying asleep
- Experiencing nightmares or disturbing dreams
- Feeling irritable or edgy
- Experiencing stomach problems, such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation
- Having muscle tension
- Feeling like you can’t wind down or relax
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Feeling fatigued during the day
Of course, everyone experiences anxiety in different ways, so not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. If you’re worried that you might be suffering from relaxation-induced anxiety, it’s best to consult with a mental health professional who can help you get to the root of your anxiety and develop a plan for managing it.
Relaxation-Induced Anxiety Causes: 13 Reasons Why
Relaxation-induced anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that can occur when a person is trying to relax. The most common causes of relaxation-induced anxiety are:
Perfectionism is often thought of as a positive trait. After all, it can drive us to achieve great things. But when taken to the extreme, perfectionism can actually be quite harmful. One of the ways it can do this is by causing relaxation-induced anxiety.
So why does perfectionism lead to relaxation-induced anxiety? There are a few reasons. First, perfectionists tend to have very high standards for themselves. They’re always striving to be the best, and that can make relaxation feel like a waste of time.
Second, perfectionists are often afraid of making mistakes. They don’t want to relax if it means they might make a mistake that could reflect poorly on them. And finally, relaxation can be interrupted by intrusive thoughts about all the things that need to be done.
For a perfectionist, relaxation time is anything but relaxing.
If you find yourself feeling anxious during relaxation time, it might be because you’re a perfectionist. If that’s the case, try to relax your standards for yourself and give yourself permission to relax without worry. Remember, relaxation is supposed to be enjoyable! Don’t let perfectionism ruin it for you.
2. Preconceived Notions
Relaxation-induced anxiety is caused by people’s preconceived notions about relaxation. People think that relaxation is supposed to be calm and free of anxiety, but this is not always the case. Relaxation can cause anxiety because people have different ideas about what relaxation is supposed to be.
Relaxation is not always calm and free of anxiety, but it can be a good way to reduce stress.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be caused by people’s preconceived notions about relaxation, but it is not always a bad thing. Relaxation can cause anxiety because people have different ideas about what relaxation is supposed to be, but it can also be a good way to reduce stress.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA) occurs when someone becomes anxious while relaxing. It is caused by having unrealistic expectations about relaxation. If a person expects relaxation to be perfect or better than it actually is, they may be disappointed and anxious.
When people try to relax, they often have an idea of what relaxation should feel like. But relaxation is different for everyone. It is a state of mind, not a physical sensation. If you focus too much on how you think you should feel, you may become anxious because you are not meeting your own expectations.
To avoid RIA, it is important to let go of any preconceived notions about relaxation and simply allow yourself to be in the moment.
4. Worrying About The Ability To Relax
When you’re trying to relax, worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to actually relax can cause relaxation-induced anxiety. This can lead to tension and anxiety during the relaxation process, which can make it even harder to relax.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be a vicious cycle, as the more we worry about relaxing, the more anxious we become, and the less likely we are to actually relax. Worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to relax will only make relaxation more difficult.
If you find yourself worrying about relaxation, try to focus on the present moment and let go of any expectations or outcomes.
5. Feeling Self-Conscious Or Embarrassed
Relaxation-induced anxiety is a condition where someone feels anxious or panicked when trying to relax, usually in public. This can be caused by feeling self-conscious or embarrassed, as you may worry that you look foolish or that people are judging you.
Relaxation-induced anxiety is often linked to social anxiety disorder, as the fear of being judged by others can trigger both conditions. If you’re struggling with relaxation-induced anxiety, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that there are ways to manage your symptoms.
6. Fearing The Relaxation Response Itself
For some people, relaxation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, relaxation can sometimes cause its own form of anxiety, known as relaxation-induced anxiety. This occurs when people fear the sensations that come with relaxation, such as heaviness in the body or a feeling of detachment.
This can lead to tension and anxiety.
Relaxation-induced anxiety is usually caused by two things:
- A lack of understanding of what the relaxation response is and
- Fearing the sensations that come with the relaxation response.
If you’re someone who experiences relaxation-induced anxiety, try not to worry. Relaxation-induced anxiety is not harmful and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
7. Trying Too Hard To Relax
In some cases, people may become so focused on relaxation that they actually end up becoming more tense and anxious. This is because the act of trying to relax can be a stressful experience.
The mind may become fixated on all the things that could go wrong or on the fact that relaxation is not happening quickly enough. As a result, relaxation-induced anxiety can occur.
8. Fear of losing control
Relaxation-induced anxiety occurs when someone is anxious about relaxing. For some people, the idea of relinquishing control can be frightening, leading to increased anxiety during relaxation exercises.
Symptoms of relaxation-induced anxiety include feeling tense, restless, or on edge during relaxation exercises; feeling like you need to escape or “get out” of the situation; and having trouble concentrating.
If you experience relaxation-induced anxiety, try to focus on the positive aspects of relaxation, such as the fact that it can help you feel calmer and more in control.
9. Feeling Trapped Or Helpless During Relaxation
Relaxation-induced anxiety can happen when you’re trying to relax, but you feel trapped or helpless instead. It’s like your mind is trying to relax, but your body isn’t getting the message.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be caused by a variety of things, including:
- Feeling trapped or helpless during relaxation
- Relaxation techniques that are too difficult or complex
- Not being able to let go of thoughts or worries during relaxation
Relaxation-induced anxiety is different from regular anxiety, because it happens when you’re trying to relax.
10. Guilt Over Enjoying Relaxation
Relaxation is important for our health and wellbeing, but sometimes it can come at a cost. For some people, relaxation can bring on a feeling of guilt, which in turn can cause relaxation-induced anxiety.
There are a few reasons why relaxation might trigger feelings of guilt. Maybe you feel like you should be working instead of relaxing, or you feel like you don’t deserve to relax because you have so much going on in your life.
Whatever the reason, if relaxation makes you feel guilty, it’s important to find a way to deal with that guilt so that you can fully enjoy the benefits of relaxation.
11. Concerns About Safety Or Health
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be caused by concerns about safety or health. For example, a person may be worried about relaxation techniques causing them to black out or faint.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can also be caused by concerns about the environment, such as noise levels or temperature. Relaxation-induced anxiety is a normal reaction to relaxation techniques and does not mean that the person is doing something wrong.
12. Negative Body Image
Relaxing into one’s body can be difficult for those who have negative body image issues. This can lead to tension and anxiety during relaxation sessions. Relaxation-induced anxiety can be caused by a number of things, including negative self-talk, social comparison, and unrealistic standards.
Trusting the relaxation process and learning to let go of control can be difficult for those who are used to being in control of their bodies.
When you’re trying to relax, it’s easy to get caught up in the outcome. You want to feel calm and serene, so you focus all your attention on achieving that state. But sometimes, this can backfire. Instead of relaxation, you may end up feeling anxious and stressed.
This is because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to relax.
When you’re focused on the goal, you’re more likely to become aware of every little muscle twitch and heart beat. This can lead to anxiety and panic, which will only make it harder to relax.
If you’re experiencing relaxation-induced anxiety, try to focus on the present moment and let go of any perfectionistic tendencies. Accepting that relaxation is imperfect can help reduce stress and make the process more enjoyable.
10 Effective Ways To Overcoming Relaxation-Induced Anxiety
Regardless of the cause, relaxation-induced anxiety can be a very difficult thing to overcome. However, there are some things that you can do to help you overcome relaxation-induced anxiety. Relaxation-induced anxiety is not something that you have to live with forever. With the right tools and techniques, you can overcome relaxation-induced anxiety and live a more peaceful life.
1. Understand The Source Of Your Anxiety
While it may seem counterintuitive, relaxation can actually trigger anxiety in some people. This is because relaxation can increase awareness of the body and physical sensations, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.
However, understanding the source of relaxation-induced anxiety can help to overcome it. When you know what is causing your anxiety, it is easier to address and manage it.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be caused by many factors, such as fear of failure, fear of the unknown, or unrealistic expectations. Understanding the source of your anxiety is the first step to overcoming it.
For example, if relaxation techniques are causing you to feel more aware of your body, then you may need to focus on relaxation techniques that do not involve focusing on the body. Additionally, it is important to understand that RIA is not harmful and does not indicate an underlying mental health condition.
With this understanding, you can work on relaxing without worrying about inducing anxiety.
2. Talk About Your Fears With A Trusted Friend Or Family Member
When you’re feeling anxious, it can be helpful to talk to someone you trust about your fears. This can help to diffuse the anxiety and make it feel less overwhelming. Sharing your anxieties with someone also helps to normalize them, and can make them feel less scary.
It can be helpful to set aside some time to talk about your anxiety with your friend or family member.
During this conversation, you can discuss what is causing you to feel anxious, and brainstorm ways to cope with your anxiety. You may also want to come up with a plan for what to do if your anxiety starts to feel overwhelming.
Talking about your anxiety can help you to feel more in control of it, and may even help you to start working on overcoming it.
3. Take Some Time For Yourself Every Day
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives. For some people, anxiety can be a constant battle. If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, taking some time for yourself each day can help.
When you allow yourself to relax and de-stress, you’re giving your mind and body a break from the constant worry. This can help reduce relaxation-induced anxiety in the long run. Taking time for yourself might mean reading a book, taking a walk, or taking a bath.
Whatever it is that helps you relax, make sure to carve out some time for it each day. You deserve it!
4. Practice Relaxation Techniques Daily
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help manage stress and anxiety. When you use relaxation techniques on a regular basis, it can help to lessen relaxation-induced anxiety.
Relaxation techniques can help to familiarize your body and mind with the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response that occurs when you’re under stress. The relaxation response is a state of restfulness that helps to reduce stress and promote healing.
Practicing relaxation techniques on a daily basis can help you to overcome relaxation-induced anxiety by teaching your body and mind how to respond to relaxation cues.
5. Avoid Stimulants Such As Caffeine And Nicotine
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be tough to overcome. But avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can help. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants. They can increase anxiety levels and make it harder to relax.
If you’re struggling with relaxation-induced anxiety, avoiding these substances might be helpful.
Of course, everyone is different. So, if you’re not sure whether or not stimulants are affecting your relaxation-induced anxiety, it might be a good idea to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you figure out what’s best for you.
6. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and tension in the body. When you exercise regularly, you will likely find that your anxiety levels decrease as well. This is because exercise helps to release endorphins in the brain, which have a calming and relaxation effect.
In addition, exercise can help to improve sleep quality, which can also reduce anxiety levels. Finally, regular exercise helps to build self-confidence and coping skills, which can be useful in managing anxiety.
7. Eat healthy foods
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be a real pain. But did you know that what you eat can actually help you overcome it? Eating healthy foods helps to ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to function properly.
When your body is running on all cylinders, you are less likely to experience anxiety symptoms.
Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling better and relaxation-induced anxiety will be a thing of the past!
8. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep can help you overcome relaxation-induced anxiety. When you are well-rested, you are less likely to experience anxiety symptoms. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night.
Additionally, try to avoid relaxation techniques that make you feel anxious. Instead, focus on relaxation activities that make you feel calm and peaceful. With time and practice, you can overcome relaxation-induced anxiety and enjoy the benefits of relaxation.
9. Address Any Underlying Mental Health Issues
Relaxation-induced anxiety can often be caused by underlying mental health issues. By addressing these issues, you can help to overcome relaxation-induced anxiety. Often, relaxation-induced anxiety is caused by depression or OCD.
If you are struggling with relaxation-induced anxiety, it’s possible that you are also dealing with one of these underlying mental health issues. By seeking treatment for your mental health issue, you can help to reduce or eliminate your relaxation-induced anxiety.
10. Seek Professional Help
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be a tricky beast to overcome. On the one hand, you want to relax and de-stress, but on the other hand you don’t want to trigger your anxiety. It can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
However, there is hope! Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide the guidance and support you need to work through your relaxation-induced anxiety.
Here are some ways professionals can help:
- Professionals can help you understand relaxation-induced anxiety and how it works. This understanding can be key in helping you overcome it.
- They can also teach you relaxation techniques that are proven to help reduce anxiety.
- Most importantly, they can provide support and encouragement as you work to overcome your relaxation-induced anxiety.
So if you’re struggling with relaxation-induced anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. it could be exactly what you need to get on the path to recovery.
Treatments For Relaxation-Induced Anxiety
1. Behavioral Treatments
relaxation-induced anxiety can be treated with behavioral treatments. The most common treatment is relaxation training, which teaches you how to relax your body and mind. relaxation training can be done in a group or individually.
It usually includes learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. You will also learn how to use these techniques when you are feeling anxious.
Relaxation training usually takes place over a period of 6 to 8 weeks. Other behavioral treatments for relaxation-induced anxiety include exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious. This can help you to become less afraid of these things and learn to control your anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you to identify and change the thinking patterns that contribute to your anxiety.
It can also help you to develop healthy coping skills. Behavioral treatments for relaxation-induced anxiety are typically delivered by a trained therapist. If you think you might benefit from one of these treatments, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body. By doing this, you can help to reduce overall tension and promote relaxation.
You may also find it helpful to focus on your breathing during progressive muscle relaxation.
Taking deep, slow breaths can help to lower your heart rate and ease tension in your muscles. In addition, it’s important to find a comfortable position when you’re doing progressive muscle relaxation. This will help your body to feel more relaxed and prevent any additional tension from building up.
3. Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is a helpful relaxation technique for relaxation-induced anxiety because it helps people to identify and challenge the negative thoughts that contribute to their anxiety. Here’s how it works:
- First, you identify the thoughts that are making you anxious.
- Next, you examine the evidence for and against those thoughts.
- Finally, you come up with a more realistic or positive way of thinking about the situation.
For example, let’s say that you’re trying to meditate but you keep having intrusive thoughts about your to-do list. These thoughts make you anxious and prevent you from being able to relax.
Using cognitive restructuring, you would challenge the thought “I can’t relax because I have so much to do” by looking at the evidence for and against it. In this case, the evidence against the thought might include the fact that you’ve been able to relax in the past despite having a lot to do, or that relaxation is helping you to be more productive when you return to your to-do list.
Armed with this more realistic and positive perspective, you’ll be better Able to relax and reduce your relaxation-induced anxiety.
4. Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts and emotions are subconsciously influenced by our past experiences. By exploring these past experiences, we can gain a better understanding of our current thought patterns and behaviors.
This understanding can help us to change the way we think and feel about relaxation, making it easier to relax without feeling anxious. In addition, psychodynamic therapy can help to resolve any underlying issues that may be contributing to relaxation-induced anxiety.
As a result, this type of therapy may be an effective treatment for relaxation-induced anxiety.
Relaxation-induced anxiety can be a tricky thing to manage. On the one hand, relaxation is essential for managing stress and anxiety levels. On the other hand, relaxation can sometimes lead to increased anxiety levels.
The key is to find a balance that works for you. If you find yourself feeling more anxious after relaxation, try relaxation techniques that are more active, such as yoga or Tai Chi.
Or, try relaxation techniques that are less passive, such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery. Experiment until you find a relaxation technique that works for you and helps to reduce your anxiety levels.
Kim, H., & Newman, M. G. (2019). The paradox of relaxation training: Relaxation induced anxiety and mediation effects of negative contrast sensitivity in generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 259, 271. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.045
Kim, H., & Newman, M. G. (2019). The paradox of relaxation training: Relaxation induced anxiety and mediation effects of negative contrast sensitivity in generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 259, 271–278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.045
Luberto, C., Cotton, S., & McLeish, A. (2012). OA14.01. Relaxation-induced anxiety: predictors and subjective explanations among young adults. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12(S1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-12-s1-o53