Do you often feel stressed, exhausted, distracted? Relaxing with autogenic training increases your inner resources. This simple relaxation method helps with stress, anxiety and trouble falling asleep. A guide.
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 imagining of warmth or weight: the skin warms 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?
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?
Find a quiet place. Sit or lie down, close your eyes and breathe deeply into your abdomen. Recite the phrases internally or out loud. Repeat each phrase three to six times. Let’s go!
“I am calm. I am completely calm.”
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.”
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.”
“My breathing is calm and even.”
“My heartbeat is completely calm and even.”
“Warmth is flowing through my abdomen.”
“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 quickening 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.
Both meditation and autogenic training have the same aim: relaxation. However, while meditation generally involves concentrating on the breath or a mantra, in autogenic training, you focus on (the aforementioned) fixed verbal phrases.
Relaxation through self-hypnosis prevents the occurrence of emotional and physical complaints, supports the healing process in the event of disorders and promotes general alertness and fitness. Autogenic training has been proven to help with:
Sleep disorders are unfortunately all too common. Autogenic training helps you to fall asleep. The exercises relax the muscles and the mind – making it easier to get to sleep.
Autogenic training is often used to counter stress because hypnosis lowers the respiratory and heart rate.
Autogenic training causes muscles to relax, which reduces the physical symptoms of burnout, such as tension, breathing difficulties and headaches.
Autogenic training can also help with anxiety, hyperactivity, diffuse anxieties such as fear of flying or claustrophobia, pregnancy and childbirth.
Berlin-based 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.
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 course instructors for autogenic training here.
SANA or COMPLETA supplementary insurance covers 75% of the costs up to a maximum of CHF 200 per calendar year if the course provider is recognised by us.
Would you prefer an audio guide? Helsana Coach will introduce you to autogenic training in short daily sessions. It will show you how you can harness the power of your thoughts to relax.
The expert provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Melissa Biedermann (psychologist and life coach) works in the Helsana health consultation service. She supports customers on questions to do with mental health and mindfulness.
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