Feeling anxious, stressed out and uptight? If so, a powerful relaxation technique, such as Autogenic Training (AT), could really help you.
What is Autogenic Training?
AT is a series of simple mental exercises which can bring about profound mental and physical relaxation. They help balance the activity of body and mind, facilitating (with practice) a mental and physical shift into a state of calm as and when you choose. The clue that you are in charge of the process lies in the word ‘autogenic’, which means self-induced!
The technique dates back to 1932 when German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz sought to reduce anxiety and tension by recreating the relaxed state experienced by people under hypnosis. Since then, AT has become a well-established method of relaxation in many parts of the world. We know from research, including a 2008 meta-analytic study, that autogenic training can be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and help with insomnia.
Stress and the body
Stress and anxiety result in a series of changes in the body, thanks to the actions of the autonomic nervous system. This also incorporates the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic element regulates the ‘flight or fight’ response, so-called after the choice our ancestors made in the face of danger. Nowadays we’re unlikely to be faced with a hungry sabre-toothed tiger, but if we feel upset or angry the physical effect is much the same – release of the stress hormone adrenaline, raised blood pressure and heart rate and dilated pupils – to ready the body for physical exertion. It’s important to remember, though, that the fight or flight response’s limited range of bodily functions supersedes others, such as digestion or cell repair, and is designed for short-term use only.
It’s the job of the parasympathetic nervous system to dampen these responses – lowering blood pressure and returning the body to its normal resting state – once the threat has passed. In an ideal world, the body maintains a healthy balance between fight or flight and the rest, repair and recuperate states.
Unfortunately, the stresses and strains of modern life cause us to be in fight or flight mode much of the time and our bodies are unable to perform routine mechanisms such as muscular relaxation or digestion. This is why sustained stress can significantly contribute to long-term ill-health.
Benefits of Autogenic Training
AT helps switch off the autonomic nervous system so that this remains or returns to a restful state, enabling your body to repair and recuperate itself. It:
- Reduces anxiety, stress and tension and induce a feeling of calm, especially in social situations
- Improves well-being, mood, energy levels and sleep
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Increases self-confidence
- Improves efficiency, concentration and creativity
- Develops the resilience to manage and overcome adversity
- AT is versatile – you can practise the exercises anywhere
- It’s effective if you can do it for 10 seconds or 10 minutes – however long you have available
- You don’t need equipment or special clothing
- This lifetime ‘toolkit for coping’ will relax, refresh and restore you in most situations
How I can help
As an Autogenic Training practitioner, I offer this as a course at both of my London clinics, although I usually incorporate it into an Osteopathic session to reduce costs.
I will help you to find the right exercises for you and together we’ll ensure that you feel confident enough to perform them on your own. You will need to practise them at home for a few minutes each day so that AT becomes part of your life and an everyday resource for health and wellbeing.
For more information on Autogenic Training or to book a consultation, please click here.
One grateful patient recently wrote: “Because of my anxiety disorder, I have struggled to do everyday things like taking the tube, answering my phone when an unknown number rings, eating around other people and leaving my house. As I progressed through the autogenic training course, I found myself being able to cope with taking the tube, I was able to push myself in social situations, and I felt more comfortable when leaving my house. Autogenic training has helped me throw my anxiety in the backseat and as a result has stabilised my blood sugar levels, making diabetes easier to control. Robin has given me all of the tools and support to conquer my anxiety and for that I am forever grateful.”