Do you often feel stressed, exhausted, distracted? Relaxing with autogenic training boosts your resources. This simple relaxation method helps with stress, anxiety and trouble falling asleep. A guide.
Autogenic training is a proven relaxation method. It is a kind of self-hypnosis: you repeat certain phrases that you have chosen, such as “my right arm is heavy”. The auto-suggestion works on the vegetative nervous system – a system that is not deliberately suggestible and which regulates your blood pressure and breathing, for example. The technique is easy to learn. It is a popular relaxation method that is also suitable for children from around eight years of age.
How does autogenic training impact health?
The individual exercises induce a state of deep relaxation – the foundation for physical and mental health. The body has a detectable reaction to the mere imagination of warmth or weight: the skin heats up, the muscles relax, the pulse slows down. You become calmer, more mindful and more resilient. Chronic stress, on the other hand, undermines key bodily functions such as the immune system. Ready for the first exercise?
Guide: the seven basic exercises for beginners
Find a quiet place. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, breathe deeply into your belly. Say the phrases internally or out loud. Repeat each phrase three to six times. Let’s go!
|1. Calmness phrase|
“I am calm. I am completely calm.”
|2. Heaviness exercise|
Concentrate on a feeling of heaviness in each part of your body:
“My right arm is heavy.”
“My left arm is heavy.”
“My arms are heavy.”
“My right leg is heavy.”
“My left leg is heavy.”
“My legs are heavy.”
3. Warmth exercise
Now focus on a feeling of warmth.
“My right arm is warm.”
“My left arm is warm.”
“My arms are warm.”
“My right leg is warm.”
“My left leg is warm.”
“My legs are warm.”
|4. Breathing exercise|
"My breathing is calm and even.”
5. Heart exercise
"My heartbeat is completely calm and even.”
6. Solar plexus exercise (works on the abdominal neuroplexus)
“Warmth is flowing through my abdomen.”
|7. Forehead exercise|
“My forehead is cool and smooth.”
If you are not using autogenic training to fall asleep, you must finish by saying the return phrase:
While you say this, bend your arms a few times and stretch. Welcome back.
How do you feel after doing the exercises? It is completely normal if you do not have the desired sensation at first. In the short term, it is even possible to feel the opposite effect during the exercise, such as a rapid heartbeat during the heart exercise. Don’t give up. Practise regularly, at least three times a week. The desired effects will set in after a short period of time.
When can the relaxation method help?
Relaxation through self-hypnosis prevents the occurrence of emotional and physical complaints, supports the healing process in the event of disturbances and promotes general alertness and fitness. Autogenic training has been proven to help with:
- Inner restlessness, hyperactivity
- Trouble falling asleep
- Fears (e.g. fear of flying, claustrophobia)
- Pregnancy and childbirth
Berlin psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz developed autogenic training in the 1930s on the basis of hypnosis research. Since the launch of his concentrative self-relaxation method, as Schultz called it, numerous studies have confirmed the medical effects of the relaxation technique on health – provided you practise it on a regular basis. As you perform the exercises, you eventually automate the desired reactions and sensations. This is referred to as conditioning. In time, an image will suffice and your body will react by relaxing.
More mindfulness with the Helsana Coach app
These tips and exercises for motivation, concentration, sleep and relaxation will bring more calm into your day-to-day life.
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Autogenic training is easy to learn and practise at home. If need be, a professional introduction and coaching is worthwhile for beginners. You can find recognised courses and providers here.
What does Helsana cover for autogenic training?
Want to learn more? You can find other relaxation methods here.
Author: Daniela Schori
Publication: 12 December 2019
Specialist Heinz Jurenia:
Heinz Jurenia (HFP-certified health insurance expert) has worked for Helsana for over 40 years and is a specialist in health promotion measures. He is an expert in the fitness industry and is involved in several quality assurance organisations in the Swiss health sector. Heinz Jurenia provided the editorial team with advice and editorial support for this article.