Our bodies respond to anxiety provoking thoughts and feared situations with muscle tension. When a socially anxious person interprets a social situation as threatening the fight or flight response is triggered , hormones are released and the involuntary nervous system gets the muscles tense ready to help the individual to respond to danger (Andrews, Crino, Hunt, Lampe & Page,1994).


Constant muscle tension can make people feel cranky, fatigued & apprehensive and develop muscle pain and soreness as well as headaches (Andrews et al, 1994)

People are more likely to have a panic attack when they are in a constant state of tension as they are already highly stressed so a minor social event could cause further tension which results in hyperventilation and panic (Andrews et al,1994).

Relaxation is the voluntary release of muscle tension or psychological tension (Andrews et al, 1994)


The benefits of relaxation include:

  • feeling calm
  • reduced muscle tension
  • lowered blood pressure
  • lowered heart rate
  • decreased output of hormones that increase the flight or fight response
  • reduced perspiration
  • breathing more slowly
  • sleeping better (Davis, Eshelman, & McKay, 1995)


There are a number of different relaxation techniques to choose from:

  • Slow breathing
  • progressive muscle relaxation
  • isometric relaxation
  • meditation
  • visualization
  • self hypnosis (Davis, Eshelman & Mc Kay, 1995)


Please note this list is not exhaustive and you may need to try a few different types of relaxation techniques until you find one that you feel is suitable for you.


Andrews et al (1994) recommend:
(1) isometric & progressive muscle relaxation, as well as slow breathing, for social anxiety.
(2) That social anxiety sufferers do relaxation before and during a feared social situation


Relaxation is a skill, and like other skills such as playing the piano or tennis, your ability to relax will improve with regular, repeated practice.

Relaxation is most beneficial when practiced regularly or when it’s implemented as soon as you detect any increase in your tension or anxiety levels.


Learn different methods for relaxation and help get over your anxiety issues. Help is only a phone call away, ring now for an appointment  on (03) 9819 3671 or 0429 88 3671


Andrews, G., Crino, R., Hunt, C., Lampe, L. & Page, A. The Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Cambridge University Press. Melbourne. Australia.

Davis, M., Robbins Ehselman, E. & Mc Kay, M. (1995) Fourth Edition. The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc. California, USA.

This article published on Jul 23, 2012. View related Treatment Options

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