Restlessness: 10 tips & 5 exercises to stop feeling nervous
Of course, it would be lovely if we could always be completely at peace within ourselves, but unfortunately, that is usually not the reality. Here are some tips and exercises to help you get a whole lot closer to serenity and leave your inner restlessness behind.
Most people experience feelings of inner restlessness and agitation seemingly without cause and for many, it is even part of everyday life. This can be a burden and make you unhappy and even ill in the long run. Fortunately, there are many ways to curb inner restlessness.
The meaning of restlessness
When you’re feeling restless, you are unable to relax because of boredom or anxiety. This can be because of medications that have a stimulative effect on your body or stopping those medications.
Another reason could be that you consume too much caffeine throughout the day. But also pain, neurological problems, mental health issues, or hormonal imbalances can make you feel restless inside your body. If you feel restless at night, it will naturally have a negative effect on your sleep.
10 tips to combat inner restlessness
Below you’ll find 10 tips to help you find more serenity and finally leave your inner restlessness behind.
Get back to the here and now
When inner restlessness rears its head, you can notice it in several small pointers: you may feel like you can’t sit still and still have a hundred things to do, you might get palpitations, shaking hands or you are unable to sleep.
Your levels of concentration and performance may suffer, and you may get anxiety. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, you can counteract them. Pause what you’re doing for a moment and reflect on where you are.
Take note of what you can see, hear, smell and feel around you and say to yourself, "I am present in the here and now". Even this small exercise can get rid of or at least improve restlessness.
Take a break
Restlessness is most likely related to stress and to get rid of this stress, you first need to understand it: stress is actually a short-term reaction to a threat.
It enables your body and mind to perform at their best. This does no harm and can even do you good. The premise for this, however, is that stressful moments are followed by periods of calm so your body and mind can rest and your levels of stress hormones can come back down to normal.
If you don’t have these periods of calm, your stress level will remain constantly high, which can lead to inner restlessness, among other things. Therefore, make sure that you give yourself daily time-outs so you can relax.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Sometimes the causes of inner restlessness can also be mundane: too much caffeine. Try reducing how much coffee you consume or switching to decaffeinated for a few days.
This could solve the problem. Black tea, green tea or cola can also contribute to high caffeine levels. Therefore, these drinks, too, should only be enjoyed in moderation, or why not tentatively try cutting them out completely?
Inner restlessness can quickly lead to your thoughts going round in circles: your head tries to explain the feelings of restlessness and find a thousand and one reasons for them. This can lead to anxiety or even ramp up these feelings of restlessness.
It’s possible to stop this happening, but it’s not easy. Distractions help: do something completely different that requires your attention. This will eventually make you feel inwardly calmer.
Rule out physical causes
If you’ve been feeling nervous for an extended period of time and you don’t see any huge improvements with our tips and methods, you should consult a doctor. Sometimes physical illness can be an underlying cause for restlessness, such as high blood pressure, a heart problem or thyroid disease.
Needless to say, the cause must be treated if this is the case. Hormonal changes, during menopause for example, can also lead to inner restlessness. To be on the safe side, go for a check-up to make sure you’re in good health.
Reduce stress in everyday life
Taking breaks is important for reducing stress, but there are also many other factors that can help here:
- Check if you can postpone some of your tasks or hand them off to someone else.
- Find out what exactly stresses you out and how you can avoid or improve these situations.
- Resolve any ongoing conflicts that are weighing on you.
- Learn to say "no" when more tasks are assigned to you.
- Talk to your family members about feeling stressed so you can figure out together how they can help take some pressure off you.
Medicinal plants for treating inner restlessness
You can take medicinal plants to help you relax more, especially if your feelings of restlessness are disturbing your sleep. Examples include valerian, hops or lavender. You can take them in tablet or capsule form, add them to your bath, or make them into vapor with a fragrance lamp.
However, you should be aware that doing this will only improve your symptoms and not address the actual causes. In the long run, you should still try to find out the reasons behind your nervousness.
Listen to music
Music has a powerful effect on our moods and emotions. Take advantage of it! Put together a playlist of songs that calm you down – this can be relaxation music, but can also include any other kind of music that allows you to unwind and triggers warm feelings within you.
Sometimes inner restlessness is an expression of an urge to move. Especially if you don’t move much in everyday life, you might simply be lacking some physical activity.
Make sure you get some regular exercise, such as by taking a brisk walk during your lunch break. You can become significantly less restless just by doing this one thing.
Smiling makes you happy, and that’s no cliché. We now know that our brains "scan" our facial expressions and then release the appropriate hormones to match. Smiling signals "I’m fine" to your brain and then it behaves accordingly. You should therefore get into the habit of having a smile on your lips as often as you can.
Exercises for combating inner restlessness
Below we’ve listed 5 exercises to help you combat inner restlessness and teach yourself how to find serenity.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the most researched relaxation methods. This technique involves tensing individual muscle groups one after the other and then relaxing them again, enabling tension to be released from your body. This also has a positive effect on your mind: you feel altogether loosened and more relaxed.
Autogenic training has also been very well researched and has been shown to have calming and relaxing effects. With this method, you primarily work with autosuggestions, that is to say phrases that you say to yourself.
Typical phrases include: "My body is heavy" or "My breathing is calm and regular". However, autogenic training is more difficult to learn than progressive muscle relaxation and courses are available at further education centers, for example. Many health insurance companies even cover part of the costs.
Our breathing is very closely related to our inner calm or restlessness: if we relax and unwind, our breathing is deep and calm. If we are worked up, nervous or anxious, our breathing is faster and shallower. This relationship also works the other way round: when our breathing is deeper and calmer, we become more relaxed. That’s why breathing exercises can have a direct impact on inner restlessness.
Laughter yoga may seem a bit strange at first glance, but it has a powerful effect on well-being. The basic idea is that even forced laughter can relax you and make you happy, so you can use this form of yoga to minimize your feelings of inner restlessness.
There are various exercises you perform that lead to laughter which was initially forced eventually becoming genuine. Many participants have reported experiencing real fits of laughter, such as they last experienced in childhood. Therefore, this technique is great fun and contributes significantly to helping you relax.
The principles of Tai chi include easing body tension, performing breathing exercises and practicing mindfulness. You’ll learn a whole new relaxed way of holding yourself: relaxation in Tai Chi is not meant to be limp and powerless, but it involves tensing only those muscle areas necessary to hold a body position. Movements are flowing and should be performed with great care.
Which exercise sounds particularly interesting to you? And which tip could you implement immediately? Start finding more inner peace today.