The word anxiety gets bandied around a lot these days doesn’t it and we have all experienced it to some degree. From the ‘normal’ anxious feelings we have when we are waiting for important news, to the crippling and irrational fear that takes over our whole world.
Anxiety is something that I see at least daily in my clinic and it affects people in different ways.
Often it’s early trauma that puts us into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ (a healthy coping strategy in the short term) and we stay there (feeling anxious), not knowing how to find the ‘off switch’. Sometimes its ongoing stress that gradually takes its toll without us realising particularly, or we try and carry on as if we are okay, until we are debilitated (either by the anxiety itself or by a physical symptom which has been caused by the anxiety). The body has a habit of saying, STOP, TAKE NOTICE and if you ignore it, it will SHOUT LOUDER! At some point, we are forced to take a look at our lives and take steps to address things.
It’s a big subject so here, I am going to give an overview of how Craniosacral Therapy can help you if you are feeling anxious or have symptoms that you think may be related to anxiety and also what you can do at home to help yourself. Because however bad things are, there are things you can do that will help.
So how does Craniosacral Therapy help a stressed nervous system?
I can tell a lot about a person’s system by listening to it with my hands. A system which is in ‘fight, flight or freeze’ can feel revved up, tight, it often feels quivery and ‘slowing down’ is a challenge. The body can be very dissociated, a sense that parts (or all) of the body are missing, or parts of the body are a different shape or size to how you know they are, are common. The system sometimes feels ‘shut down’, the potency is very low and / or the client feels it is impossible to find anywhere in the body that feels ‘okay’ (these are all symptoms of trauma / stress / fear).
Step 1 is for me to work with the nervous system according to how it is presenting. Transforming a system from that which I have described, to one which is whole, present moment, grounded and feels safe and calm is MAJOR. So simple eh! Not always easy (!) but it is a simple concept. Gosh how I love this work! Because really that is a transformation and then with the newly down regulated nervous system, a new world of clarity, coping and calm becomes clear and in the stillness and resource that the system now has, is the ability to process and release specific tensions and unresolved restrictions (I won’t go into this process right now).
Now a short list of things that you can do to help yourself:
- See how it is to allow the possibility that things will get better, Having hope will help you.
- The first and probably the most important thing to do is feel your feet on the ground. I mean REALLY feel them on the ground. Take your shoes and socks off and go and walk on the grass or barefoot in the earth. Ooo, the beach would be lovely! Make this a daily thing and really notice the sensations you feel through your feet. This is what it is to be in the present moment.
- Notice that in this exact moment (truly being present), 99% of your worries are gone. There is no anxiety.
- Be interested in the intense sensations that you feel, rather than going into panic – you have a choice here. Practice curiosity and notice how your physiology prepares you for action. Notice what is around you and that you are actually safe in this moment. This will often help the feelings to change or ease.
- Recognise that in anxiety, we often imagine the worst case scenario (predicting the future). Our brains want to protect us, but by imagining the worst, we are sent into panic mode. Recogising that you are doing this is fabulous progress. Consider that this is not rational thought. There is a choice here.
- Surrounding yourself with people who are good for you is great for anxiety. Who do you feel safe with? Conversely, who do you need to avoid? Is that possible?
- A hug or a listening ear can really help anxiety. Tell someone close how you are feeling, else they won’t know.
- Its always important to do the basics, but especially when you are struggling with anxiety. Eat as healthily as you can and prioritise sleep. Try and spend some time outside, preferably moving / doing exercise. Treat yourself (i.e. something that’s good for you).
- The more we do all of this, the more automatic it becomes (our default in other words). Otherwise anxiety can feel like a trap that we can’t get out of.
- But you can get out of it. By understanding more about what is happening in your brain, you can show yourself how to respond differently.
Remember, you are not alone. I can help you with all of this and guide you to a more relaxed way of living. Support from a professional can really make the world of difference. Your mental health matters!