Lifestyle

Mind-Body Tools for Anxiety and Stress


When you have anxiety or stress (whether general and all the time or over one event), there are a lot of free resources out there. There’s nothing wrong with being stressed–it’s a natural reaction. When we feel stressed, we’re doing our best to take care of and protect ourselves… but sometimes we get a little too stuck in our mental whirlwind.

Please note that I am not sponsored by any of these references and do not receive any compensation for the links. These are simply things I believe in. They’ve worked for me and I wanted to share.

 

Tools for Coming Back Into Your Body

Tapping

There are many resources on tapping. EFT and the Masgutova Method’s Fear Paralysis Reflex are the two that I am most familiar with. I personally choose to use the Fear Paralysis Reflex most of the time. Scroll further down the page for instructions and more information.

EFT has a lot of variations. Below is a basic selection of points from The Tapping
Solution.

Image result for EFT tapping points

Also, play with feeling areas that your body carries or stores emotional tension. Try tapping here. Tap gently, then more firmly. Use the palm of your hand, the heel of your hand, and just a couple of fingers. Tap on a stick or ball (like your hand is a hammer). Play with it. See what happens. Just remember–if you feel physical pain, do it lighter, more gently, or stop altogether. Pain is not the aim. Relaxation is.

 

Grounding and Breathing

Feel your feet. Feel how your feet are connected to the earth. Place a hand on your stomach. Breathe into your hand, expanding into your hand, and then softly releasing as you exhale. Ground into your feet again. Feel the weight of the earth supporting you. Rock softly on your feet, forward and back. Breathe deeply into your hand. Rock left to right on your feet, slowly and softly. Notice when you feel more balanced or more supported. Now rock around, just playing, finding where you feel most balanced and most supported by the earth. Once you find that spot, feel free to still rock ever so slightly, to keep a slight ebb and flow in your movement. Continue to breathe deeply into your hand.

There are many guided audios for grounding, and everyone has different preferences. There are some with music, and some without–and many different variations of grounding practices. I have not yet found one that is my favorite–rather, I use the above sequence.

 

Yoga with Adriene, yoga practices

Yoga_Small-42e960b0

Adriene has multiple practices for stress, anxiety, peace or inner peace, and calm, all with different lengths. Many of her practices are free. Many are contemplative, some focus more on noticing different feelings in your body. She’s fun, quirky, and all her practices are light-hearted and meet you where you are. And sometimes her adorable dog joins her–even better. Pick the one that sounds like it will best fit your needs today. One of my favorites is actually the Listen practice.

Yoga with Adriene Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Yoga with Adriene Listen practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTo07ejsYoQ

 

Yoga with Adriene, Meditation for Anxiety

meditationanxiety

This is a breathing based meditation that encourages you to sit with the emotions that come up and then focus on the breath.

Yoga with Adriene Meditation for Anxiety practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pLUleLdwY4&t=2s

 

Stop. Breathe. Think. App

stop-breathe-think-feature

This is a nifty little app I’ve often used over the years for simple, short guided meditation practices. I’ve only ever used the free version, but there are enough practices to support you for a few minutes. The woman’s voice is especially calming to me. I often use this to help me calm before going to sleep if I’m having trouble winding down.

Their website: https://www.stopbreathethink.com/

 

Easy breezy movement.

Don’t think about it–just blend your movements. Walk around, take some funny steps, move like a horse, maybe bring in a yoga pose–whatever it is, do it as soft and easy as you can. Flow. Move about the room if you can, or if you’re out in nature, step up and off a log… Enjoy your surroundings, enjoy yourself. Maybe turn on some music, whatever you find most relaxing. Just play in this space.

 

Take a walk.

A ten minute walk can put you in the parasympathetic nervous system for the rest of the day. We’re talking lowered cortisol levels, deeper breathing, softer movement that’s better for your body, less reactive, more adaptable, calmer, happier you. Don’t be worried about power walking, or even timing your watch. Just go out, breathe, and enjoy the day. If the weather’s too yucky to walk outside, try walking around slowly inside in curved lines while listening to calm music or looking out the windows. This helps you be less direct-lined and get more into the calm, flow state.

 

Walk outside barefoot, even for just a few minutes.

The connection to the earth is calming, and brings our attention more to our feet. Our feet have almost as many sensory nerves as our hands do. This helps bring us back into our bodies, and back in touch with nature–a much slower moving, more organic thing.

 

Soft senses.

We often have our laser beam focus on. Take a moment to soften your vision. Soften your hearing. Sit back a little bit. Take in a wider focus. Soften your senses some more. Allow the edges to blur. Maybe turn the corners of your lips up a little. Soften your face. Soften your vision and your hearing. Soften the space around your heart. Breathe softly. Blink softly. Smile softly. Soft eyes, soft ears. When you perceive the world through soft and big-picture lenses and hearing, you experience the world as a soft place, and mentally think more big picture, allowing you to not stress so much about the little things.

 

Thoughts on Shifting Perspectives

Loving-Kindness Meditation

I appreciate the free meditations by Barbara Frederickson, PhD. She used them with some of her Psychology and Mindfulness/Positive Psychology studies and now offers them for free to the public. What a nice gal. She also has a very soothing voice.

Barbara Frederickson’s LKM (there are multiple practices): http://www.positivityresonance.com/meditations.html

 

Gratitude

Taking a few minutes (or seconds) to write down what you’re grateful for and why can start to shift your perspectives to the things you love and appreciate rather than all the things you don’t love and wish didn’t exist. If that’s what you perceive, that’s your reality.

 

Positive Psychology–being aware of the positive

Positive Psychology is not about always being happy. It’s about continuously expanding our ability to be aware of positive things, have resilience in tough times, and be calm and enjoy our lives.

One of the fundamental concepts in positive psychology is the Broaden and Build Theory (by Barbara Frederickson, PhD). The idea is essentially that the more you begin to focus on positive elements in your life (or something else), the more your body expects that that is the normal way of living, and the more it broadens and builds over time, creating an exponential curve of growth in whatever thing you are implementing more intentionally.

If we intentionally bring positive perspectives (even of negative situations), loving-kindness, gratitude, and calmness into our lives, our bodies will naturally broaden and build on those elements in preparation for the next season–so it is more prepared to respond to that version of reality in the following season.

There are many different exercises you can do with this. Barbara Frederickson’s books or her Coursera Course with UNC at Chapel Hill are good resources. Here’s a couple of simple concepts:

Compassion

Choose to see things through the perspective of compassion, whether for yourself or others. Know that everyone is trying their best to honor and take care of their needs. They do not always carry out that intention positively, but they fundamentally meant well. We are all struggling. Extend compassion to yourself and to others when you find yourself getting frustrated.

Positivity Box

Keep a few photos or items in a box, or on your phone. These can be quotes, trinkets, doodles, or photographs you’ve taken. On a daily basis, look back through these things. Take time to appreciate them.

Recalling the Positive

After each day, write down (okay, summarize) all the positive things that happened that day–they can be things you appreciated, or things you loved, or things that simply made you smile. Many of us have access to food, water, and rest. We can all make choices. Even if this is all you can write down, do so. The idea with this is that not only are you remembering the positive things in the evening (thereby getting better sleep because you’re more relaxed and positive), you’re also looking for positive things the following day.

Barbara Frederickson’s Coursera Course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/positive-psychology

Her two books are Love 2.0 and Positivity. They are both lengthy but good, if you are looking for more of the “why”. They are available as audio books through audible.

Love 2.0: https://www.amazon.com/Love-2-0-Finding-Happiness-Connection/dp/0142180475/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529703023&sr=1-3&keywords=barbara+frederickson

Positivity:

https://www.amazon.com/Positivity-Top-Notch-Research-Reveals-Upward/dp/0307393747/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529703023&sr=1-1&keywords=barbara+frederickson

 

Know that you are doing your best to try to take care of and honor yourself.

Our bodies and minds are wired for survival. Likelihood of survival goes up when we are feeling well, doing well, and are able to respond well to a variety of situations. If we’re responding negatively something, it’s not because we wish to bring chaos to the world–it’s because we want to take care of ourselves or someone else, but we don’t know how, or we have insecurities or traumas that cause us to react emotionally instead of respond mindfully. Don’t be hard on yourself for this–everyone experiences this. Extend compassion to yourself and to others, and hope that they will do the same for you–but know that if they don’t, it’s only because they, too, are hurting, and are trying their best to honor and protect and maintain the safe version of reality that they have chosen for themselves.

 

Releasing You from a Physiological Stress Reflex

Masgutova Method Fear Paralysis Reflex protocol

If you do not have a practitioner near you, Svetlana’s Parents’ Guide to MNRI book has this reflex outlined in it. https://masgutovamethod.com/estore/featured/parents-guide-to-mnri

Another effective method to use is to tap on your sternum. Svetlana uses a Cha-Cha—Cha-Cha-Cha rhythm. I find this more soothing than a constant rhythm.

Another way to practice the Fear Paralysis reflex somatically is to lie on your back, and slowly curl up into a ball, bending your arms and legs into your center. Slowly come out of it, focusing on the expanding and lengthening. When you reach the table, simply lie in a neutral place and breathe deeply. Enjoy a feeling of peace. Repeat this a few times.

Another thing you can do with this–if you start to feel like you are freezing in fear, begin to tap on your chest, but then slowly use the idea of easy breezy movement to unlock yourself from this position. Even if you are walking, walk with some amount of ease and fluidity. Do not force yourself to walk in straight lines or very erect–allow softness and curved lines to come into your body and movement. Continue to tap while you flow in your body. Feel into the perspective that you can move forward–even if you cannot move directly forward. Ask yourself if there is another way to approach the situation that feels better to you. The important thing is to just keep moving. Release yourself from the pattern of freeze.

Please contact me to learn more about the Fear Paralysis Reflex, or to find out if other things could be added to your practice to help you.

 

Masgutova Method Moro Reflex Protocol

If you do not have a practitioner near you, Svetlana has some resources available on her website for the full protocol. These are designed to be done with two people. Parents’ Guide to MNRI has this reflex outlined in it. https://masgutovamethod.com/estore/featured/parents-guide-to-mnri

Another way you can practice Moro somatically is to go into extension with all of your joints, having your arms out diagonally away from you, mouth open, and then slowly come into flexion with all of your joints.

Repeat this a few times.

 

Cross-Body Connection

Cross your legs. Cross your arms, then turn your palms toward each other and interlace your fingers. Now rotate your hands back towards your body until they are on your chest. Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Breathe deeply. Hang out here.

 

Somatic Release–Green Light, Red Light, or Trauma Reflex protocol

I recommend finding a Hanna Somatic or other Somatic practitioner near you if you can. If you do not have access one, you can try the book, “Somatics”. You can also email me and set up a personal video coaching with a support document that will walk you through some of the exercises that you can do on your own.

Thomas Hanna’s book “Somatics”: https://www.amazon.com/Somatics-Reawakening-Control-Movement-Flexibility/dp/0738209570/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529702490&sr=8-1&keywords=somatics

Find a Hanna Somatic practitioner:

http://hannasomatics.com/index.php/find_a_practitioner

Please note: This is not a completely comprehensive list of practitioners who have finished the certification, only of those who maintain membership with this particular association. I also find that there are others who have not finished the certification, or who have done another somatic training, but are still very good practitioners. Note that I have not finished the Hanna Somatic certification. I use a variety of methods, including what I have learned from Hanna Somatics, but believe that the method is very valuable. The principles form the basis of my work.

 

For any of the movement or body methods listed above, I can do video coaching and create a support document for you. Please email me at kara@wellnessbasedhorsemanship.com if you are interested in more information.

 

If you find that you need more help shifting perspectives or with the emotional side of wellness and growth, my mom does phone sessions with mental wellness coaching and life coaching. Please email her at brita@wellnessbasedhorsemanship.com for more information.

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