People with anxiety are sensitive to sharp shifts in mental states, such as going from peaceful to worried, explains study author Hanjoo Kim, MS, a doctoral student in the psychology department at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Calm settings can therefore perpetuate anxiety because they expose you to potential emotional rollercoasters.
This defense mechanism can leave you in a constantly stressed, activated state, Kim notes, making it hard to enjoy things like yoga or meditation.
The bottom line:
To find peace during relaxing activities, Kim suggests doing this routine from his study twice a week: In a quiet place, practice diaphragmatic breathing for 10 minutes. Then, watch at least three minutes of something stressful (like the evening news) or sad (like a movie trailer). Follow that with another 10 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing. Over time, you'll become desensitized to the emotional shifts.