If you struggle with anxiety, I don’t need to explain how it impacts the body. Anxiety seems to live in the body in the form of a racing heart, tense muscles, shallow breathing, clenched jaw, the list goes on and on.
In a previous post, Tools for Anxiety: Know your Body, Emotions, and Thoughts, I helped you uncover how anxiety impacts your mind, body, and emotions. In this post, I will help you develop a tool kit for working with anxiety through the body.
As mentioned above, anxiety impacts all three, the mind, body, and emotions. There becomes a feedback loop that keeps the anxiety train roaring through your system. If you change one part of the trifecta of your mind, body, and emotions, you impact the entire system. In this post, we will focus on settling the body.
When anxiety has a stronghold on the body, it can feel like frenetic energy vibrating to your core. When working with clients, I also notice that it often lives in the upper half of the body, as well as in the front of the body. This looks like tension in the head, neck, chest, and shoulders coupled with a forward momentum in the torso. All of this is happening outside of the conscious awareness of the person sitting in front of me.
The body participates in the feedback loop of anxiety in many ways. If you haven’t already read my last post on uncovering your telltale signs of anxiety, I recommend that you do that now, so you can begin to incorporate somatic strategies for soothing your anxiety. Often times, it’s as simple as knowing how your body responds when anxious and then doing the opposite.
For example, if you tense your muscles and hold your breath when stressed, try relaxing your muscles and take a deep nourishing breath.
Below is a list of somatic resources to try whether you’re at home, work, alone, or with support. I recommend experimenting with many of them and see which ones work best for you.
Outdoor Somatic Resourcing
The easiest way for me to ground myself is to go outside and be with the elements, whether it is direct sunlight (yes, even in Florida in JULY), the wind, the dirt, the ocean, or the rain, being in nature is soothing to me. A friend of mine calls it “earthing.”. If being in nature is a natural anxiety soother, then get your butt outside and “earth” yourself. Below are some ideas to get your started.
Go for a run or a walk
Feel the wind on your skin
Put your bare feet on the ground
Go for a run or walk
Feel the sunshine on your body
Go for a bike ride
Somatic Resources for When You’re Solo
When you’re home alone or meandering through you day, you can offer yourself the following somatic tools for soothing anxiety.
Place your hands on your chest and belly
Snuggle up under a weighted blanket
Give yourself a hug
Bounce on stability ball
Take a bubble bath
Engage in progressive muscle relaxation
Go to the gym
Do a yoga or breathing practice
Somatic Resources While You’re at Work
Sometimes you just need a little extra resourcing when at work, and while it might be frowned upon to try to take a bubble bath in the bathroom, there are still some things you can do settle yourself while in the middle of your workday.
Feel your back on the chair
Gently rock back and forth and side to side
Squeeze a stressball
Take a deep breath
Align your feet, hips, chest, neck and head
Engaging Others as a Somatic Resource
Sometimes it isn’t enough to employ somatic resources alone. At times, it is most helpful to have another person (or pet) to assist.
Snuggle with your pet
Hug a friend or family member
Get a massage
Have a trusted person put their gently place their hand on your back
Knowing how anxiety impacts your physiology helps in several ways. First, when you know the physical response your body takes on when impacted by anxiety, you can begin to settle yourself by saying, “this is an anxiety trigger, not a real threat”. Secondly, you can create a personalized toolkit for coping with anxiety specifically impacts you.
Let’s keep this conversation going. What are other somatic resources that we could add to list? Please add them in the comments section below.
More on Soothing Anxiety?
If you’d like a little extra help in soothing anxiety, check out these free guided mediation practices to help you feel calm now.
Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves. Please visit my free Guided Meditations to help you feel settled and calm now.