This month we are going to be talking about a handful of different ways to relieve minor anxiety in your body. Later on, we will be sharing different breathwork techniques to reduce anxiety, but today we are going to discuss three physical practices you can use on your own wherever and whenever you want: EFT Tapping, Self-Havening, and fist clenching. But first, let’s get nerdy with the science behind it.
Your brain contains an amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, where your emotions and long-term memories are. It’s also known as the fear center and is responsible for the fight-or-flight mode (your sympathetic nervous system), which alerts the rest of your brain and your body to danger. Your body responds by turning off all other normal systems. This is super helpful when you’re being chased by a tiger, but can be harmful when you are reacting to normal daily stressors in today’s world.
The key to physically treating your anxiety is disrupting the messaging your amygdala is sending to your brain, activating the vagus nerve, and bringing yourself back your rest & digest (parasympathetic nervous system) cycle.
If you are suffering from severe anxiety, please reach out to us for a psychotherapy session. These techniques are helpful practices for minor anxiety or in addition to professional psychotherapy and do not replace in-person or online therapy sessions with a certified counselor.
Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. There are 9 meridian points on your body, which are pathways of energy (messages) that can be disrupted by simply tapping. It’s the same concept as acupuncture, where you are freeing the flow of energy, but it is less invasive, easier, and something you can do all by yourself. Here’s how it works:
First, identify your source of anxiety and turn it into an affirmation you can repeat. “Even though I feel stressed about _______, I love and accept myself”. Keep this sentence in your mind as you tap through the next steps.
Use your fingertips on your dominant hand to tap 5-7 times on these 9 points as you identity and say aloud or think in your mind your affirmation and any other stressors that may come up.
Repeat this process as many times as you wish. You should begin to feel that you can say, think, and experience these negative things without feeling the physical response of anxiety.
Self-Havening is a simple technique involving the touch of hands, upper arms, and face which creates a brain response which releases oxytocin. Often, Havening Techniques are used by another person, typically a certified Havening practitioner, but it’s also possible to practice Havening on yourself to achieve similar results.
Identify a mantra or affirmation to focus on during your Self-Havening. For example, “I am safe”. Bring yourself into a calming environment if you can. Maybe sit in a dark and quiet room, or simply close your eyes if you are unable to create a full space.
You can repeat this process as many times as you wish. You should begin to feel calming feelings across your body immediately, but the longer your practice, the more effective it will be. You can also find guided Havening sessions online by a certified practitioner if you wish to be led through the process.
Fist Clenching is a part of PMR (progressive muscle relaxation), which helps to relieve tension in the body with mindful creation of tension followed by a release. The idea is to make yourself aware of the tension you feel, learn how to release it, and bring awareness to a relaxed state. Here we go!
Practice PMR several times per week in order to train yourself to learn how it feels to be relaxed, and you will be able to use this tool during stressful experiences to teach your body how to let go of tension and switch back into your parasympathetic nervous system.
We hope these three techniques can be helpful to you during stressful moments in your life, but please remember, these techniques are not meant to replace psychotherapy sessions with a licensed therapist. Please reach out to us if you are experiencing severe anxiety or would like help learning more about any of these practices.