Managing Anxiety: Using the Body

Much of managing anxiety has to do with recognizing anxiety. In the last post, we showed how we can come to a mental realization of why we might be anxious based on past events. In this post, let’s pay attention to where anxiety is stored in the body.

Anxiety shows up all over the body, which is why many physical activities have been shown to reduce it. Physical exercise, massage, acupuncture, deep breathing — all these things can help lessen our anxiety. Surprisingly, talking can be a physical act. There is a physiological release of energy when we spend 50 minutes doing the majority of the talking. Most clients walk away as if “a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.”

One beginning tip is to recognize where anxiety occurs in the body. Do you feel it in the top of your stomach? The back of your neck? Your shoulders? Often, taking a moment to realize where you feel it is helpful in itself. But then use this knowledge to your advantage. If in the top of your stomach, try breathing deeply for a minute. If in your shoulders, try relaxing them. If in your neck, stretch it.

Recognizing where anxiety pools in the body can also help you understand what exacerbates it. If your anxiety pools in the neck, then sitting at a computer screen with bad posture is not the best for you. Try to sit straight, breathe deep, relax the shoulders, and take breaks in between working.

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