Do you experience anxiety? If so, you’re not alone. Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including racing heart, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, and difficulty concentrating.
If you’re interested in trying somatic exercises for anxiety, there are a few things you should know. First, somatic exercises are not a cure for anxiety. However, they can be an effective way to manage anxiety symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
What Are Somatic Exercises?
Somatic exercises are a type of mind-body movement that focuses on increasing awareness of the body and its sensations. They are often used to improve body alignment, reduce stress, and relieve pain. Somatic exercises can be done in a variety of ways, but they typically involve slow, gentle movements that are performed with mindfulness and attention to detail.
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How Do Somatic Exercises Help With Anxiety?
Somatic exercises can help with anxiety in a number of ways. One way is by helping to calm the nervous system. When we are anxious, our bodies go into a state of “fight or flight.” This is a natural response to danger, but it can also be triggered by everyday stressors. Somatic exercises can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. This can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Another way that somatic exercises can help with anxiety is by increasing body awareness. When we are anxious, we may become disconnected from our bodies. Somatic exercises can help us to reconnect with our bodies and to become more aware of our physical sensations. This can help us to identify and manage our anxiety symptoms.
Somatic exercises can also help to reduce muscle tension. Anxiety can cause our muscles to tense up, which can make us feel even more anxious. Somatic exercises can help to release muscle tension and promote relaxation.
Finally, somatic exercises can help us to develop a more positive relationship with our bodies. Anxiety can lead to a negative view of our bodies. Somatic exercises can help us to appreciate our bodies and to learn to trust them.
Somatic Exercises For Anxiety
Here are six somatic exercises for anxiety:
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, is a simple but effective way to calm the body and mind. It involves breathing deeply from the diaphragm, which is a muscle located below the lungs. When you breathe diaphragmatically, your stomach should rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing:
- Find a comfortable position to sit or lie down.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your stomach to fall.
- Continue breathing in this way for several minutes.
Grounding is a technique that helps to bring your attention back to the present moment and connect you to your body. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help to reduce feelings of dissociation and overwhelm.
There are many different ways to ground yourself. One simple way is to focus on your breath and the feeling of your feet on the ground. You can also try grounding yourself through sensory awareness, such as noticing the sounds around you or the feeling of the sun on your skin.
A body scan is a meditation technique that involves bringing your awareness to each part of your body in turn. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help you to identify and release areas of tension.
To practice a body scan:
- Find a comfortable position to lie down.
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.
- Starting at your toes, bring your attention to each part of your body in turn. Notice any sensations that you feel, such as tension, relaxation, or warmth.
- If you find any areas of tension, try to soften and relax them.
- Continue scanning your body from your toes to your head.
Somatic yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on awareness of the body and breath. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help to reduce tension and promote relaxation.
There are many different somatic yoga poses that you can try. Some examples include:
- Cat-Cow: This pose helps to stretch and release the spine.
- Child’s Pose: This pose helps to calm the body and mind.
- Corpse Pose: This pose helps to promote deep relaxation.
Walking meditation is a type of meditation that involves paying attention to the sensations of walking. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help to ground you and bring your attention to the present moment.
To practice walking meditation:
- Find a quiet place to walk.
- Begin walking slowly and deliberately.
- Pay attention to the sensations of your feet walking on the ground.
- If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath and the sensations of walking.
- Continue walking for as long as you like.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.
To practice PMR:
- Find a comfortable position to lie down.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Begin by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your feet.
- Continue tensing and relaxing the muscles in your legs, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back, chest, arms, hands, and face.
- After you have tensed and relaxed all of your muscle groups, take a few deep breaths and relax.
Self-massage is a technique that involves massaging your own body. It can be helpful for anxiety because it can help to release tension and promote relaxation.
You can massage any part of your body, but some areas that are particularly helpful for anxiety include the neck, shoulders, and head. To massage these areas, simply use your fingers to gently knead and rub the muscles.
Tips For Practicing Somatic Exercises
Somatic exercises are a type of movement practice that focuses on awareness of the body and its sensations. They can be used to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, but they can also be used to reduce stress, improve mental health, and promote overall well-being.
Here are some tips for practicing somatic exercises:
- Find a quiet place: Somatic exercises are often done slowly and with gentle movements, so it’s important to have a space where you can focus on your body and your breath.
- Wear comfortable clothing: You may also want to remove your shoes and socks, if that feels comfortable for you.
- Start slowly: Somatic exercises are often new and unfamiliar to people, so it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your practice over time.
- Listen to your body: Don’t push yourself too hard, and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
- Focus on breath: Breathing is an important part of somatic exercise. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breath and how it feels in your body.
Somatic exercises can be a helpful way to manage anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being. These exercises are gentle and mindful, and they can be done anywhere and at any time. If you are struggling with anxiety, I encourage you to try some somatic exercises and see how they work for you.