Finding Freedom from Anxiety: Somatic Tools for Managing StressJun 02, 2023
You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.
Anxiety was born at the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.
We’ve all been there before: clammy hands, a racing heart, and overwhelming dread and fear. Anxiety is a real part of life—it is normal. In fact, sometimes feeling anxious is good. It keeps you alert, helps you stay safe, and prompts changes in your behavior.
But what if it becomes a never-ending cycle? When left uncontrolled, it can easily take over your life.
Fortunately, somatic tools are available to help you manage your stress and anxiety more effectively.
This article shares five tips you can do today to finally free yourself from these emotions that may be holding you down and preventing you from reaching your full potential.
What Is Somatic Therapy and How Can It Help with Anxiety Management?
Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez @Unsplash
To fully appreciate the benefits of somatic techniques in managing anxiety and stress, let us define the word here: what is somatic therapy?
Somatic therapy is a unique type of psychotherapy that uses the body’s natural inner wisdom to heal emotional trauma and regulate our nervous system.
Unlike other forms of therapy, it focuses on physical experience to uncover any trapped and unprocessed emotions. In the process, it:
- Helps you to either reduce your current level of discomfort or address behaviors impacting your daily life
- Provides you with tools to work through fear, depression, and anxiety
- Supports you in developing a positive relationship with your body and mind
Most of all, it strives to get to the root cause of your anxiety, allowing you to work through the negative feelings and create more meaningful connections with yourself and others.
Using somatic tools to identify and explore the sensations within your body gives you a deeper understanding of what is happening inside, leading to lasting changes in how you perceive stress and anxiety.
5 Powerful Ways to Use Somatic Techniques to Manage Stress and Anxiety
Here are some basic of somatic therapy techniques you can use to let go of emotions that should not belong to you NOW:
1. Achieve Mindful Awareness through Breathwork
Breathwork is a powerful and liberating process. It helps to quiet the mind and cultivate inner peace, allowing you to exist in the present moment easily.
This practice, repeated over time, also calms the nervous system and sharpens focus, training you to be more aware of the physical sensations that may signal anxiety.
Plus, you can do this anytime, especially when overwhelm begins to envelop you.
Practitioners can walk you through different breathing techniques, such as abdominal breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and deep relaxation. You can also experiment with different options and determine which ones work best.
As a beginner, you can try this simple exercise:
- Find a comfortable seated position and relax your muscles.
- Focus on inhaling deeply through your nostrils for a count of four seconds, feeling your lungs and belly expand fully.
- Hold for two seconds, followed by a slow exhalation of four seconds each.
During inhalation and exhalation, be mindful of any physical sensations that arise without judgment or expectation. Let things be.
2. Reduce Tension with Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For those who constantly wage war against anxiety and stress, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) might be a great way to release some of that tension—without letting in more.
It involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to relax your body. Some simple strategies include:
- Tensing each muscle group for five seconds, starting at the toes and slowly working your way up to the neck and head, and focusing on each muscle while you tense and relax it
- Deep breathing while engaging in PMR, taking slow, methodical breaths during practice
- Consciously calming yourself by imagining a peaceful place or listening to relaxing music
- Emphasizing your release of tension when relaxing each muscle group
- Repeating the process until you feel completely relaxed
3. Explore the Benefits of Guided Meditation
Struggling with stress and anxiety feels like an endless rabbit hole. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
One of the most powerful tools to help you manage stress is guided meditation. It provides a mindful escape from your daily life and allows you to check in with yourself.
Practicing regularly can be a great way of improving your overall well-being, reducing physical tension, and soothing the mind.
Many apps are available with audio-guided meditations to get you started and live guided sessions that allow for a more personalized experience.
Don’t worry if your mind wanders often or you cannot keep still. You can always begin with three to five minutes each day. As you build the habit and know how to tap in, you can extend it to longer periods as desired.
I’m here to support you and help provide instruction on techniques that best suit your individual needs. Feel free to reach out anytime!
4. Unleash Your Body’s Wisdom Through Movement
Photo credit: Andre Hunter @Unsplash
The body is one of the most powerful and expressive vehicles we have. To access its wisdom, we need to tap into movement .
The body releases endorphins as natural mood boosters and stress relievers when we exercise. They help shift our emotional state from negative to positive and provide us with a sense of calmness.
This could be in any form—yoga, dancing, running, hiking—whatever resonates with you. The key is ensuring the activity is light and fun, not overwhelming or strenuous.
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself, try signing up for an exercise class or plan a hike with family and friends. Building camaraderie can be a great source of motivation!
In addition to movement-based activities, you can try grounding exercises like walking barefoot on grass and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. These simple activities allow us to become more present and mindful of our environment.
5. Establishing a Routine for Self-Care
Establishing a self-care routine can feel like a daunting task to tackle, especially when dealing with anxiety and stress.
But you’re carving out time to care for the most important person in your life: you.
Even five minutes each day can make a big difference, planting the seeds for long-term change and putting yourself in charge of your mental health and well-being. It also helps you rebuild the bond with your inner child, who is often neglected and pushed aside when we are busy with our daily tasks.
Here are great ideas to try:
- Take a break from social media and digital devices.
- Read a book.
- Spend time outdoors in nature.
- Indulge in a nice, warm bubble bath in the evenings after work.
- Light some candles or incense for a calming atmosphere.
You are your greatest ally, so take time to nurture yourself, get in touch with your body, and honor your emotions.
If you ever feel stuck in a loop of negative thinking, somatic therapy provides the tools to take a step back and reclaim your power. It helps you to reframe your thoughts, reduce stress, and cultivate inner peace.
Last but not least, if you need more support than what the five techniques above provide, the best approach to learning somatic therapy is to work with a practitioner. This way, you can get personalized instruction on techniques that best suit your needs.
Feel free to reach out if you need more support. If you are interested in becoming a practitioner, yourself, I have designed a science-backed Relational Skills Trauma Certificate Program that teaches you how to reconnect with your inner child, build a more secure attachment with yourself, and empower yourself to break free from cycles of anxiety and stress.
We are here for you! You can do it. :-)
Photo credit: Charlotte Austad @Unsplash
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