How Somatics can help AnxietyHeidi Hadley
On Thursday 10th October 2019 it is World Mental Health Day. As an advocate for mental health awareness, I feel it is good to have a day to raise awareness and remove any misconceptions. So in today’s blog we are going to consider Mental Health and look at ways we can use Total Somatics to help alleviate certain symptoms.
Did you know that in 2017, globally it was estimated that 970 million people had a mental or substance use disorder. However statistical data is showing that these figures are increasing. The largest number of people had an anxiety disorder, estimated at approximately 4% of the world’s population.
This year The World Health Organisation will be focusing specifically on suicide prevention. One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide.
In today’s blog we will be discussing how we can use somatic movement and techniques to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. However, this is not to replace the support and guidance of your health professionals. If you ever feel suicidal, anxious or depressed, please seek personalised help from a professional health practitioner.
Trends and Anxiety
Anxiety has become a household word with many people either experiencing the symptoms or knowing somebody going through it. There are many reasons a person can suffer with anxiety and it is also personal, often related to several factors. However, in the digital age we live, experts are citing an area which has a huge influence. Dr Tony Fernando from the University of Auckland, pointed to an increasing dependency on activities associated with the brain’s excitement-pleasure circuitry for the rising levels of anxiety and depression in teenagers today. An area known to trigger this circuitry is social media.
The trend in today’s world has changed, with teenagers relying on social media to form friendships, fight battles, argue, gossip and bully. These actions create immediate sensations of either pleasure or displeasure. Granted, we all like to be liked. As social creatures, we thrive on group gatherings and being part of a community. However to be ‘liked’ now means something very different and often has deeper emotional, mental and physical responses. When a person is ‘liked’ on social media, the pleasure hormone Dopamine is produced. However Dopamine does not know if an action is cruel or not and so for some, being anti social and cruel can also boost their dopamine levels.
People and especially children feel the need to be up to date all the time with what is happening digitally. Within mental health the expression FOMO has become a well known and recognised expression, the Fear Of Missing Out. Youngsters often feel ‘out of the loop’ and judged if they don’t know what their peers are doing. This constant peer surveillance and review of each other creates a mental chatter and uneasiness which keeps them hypervigilant and sleep deprived as they reach for their phone in the middle of the night. Our brain is predominantly designed to look for danger and self preserve. So by allowing digital devices to control us, plays into the default of our brain.
For adults alike, jumping to the phone whenever it rings or a notification pops up, also creates hypervigilance. A conversation, even in a business or personal setting can be interrupted by the high pitch tone of the phone, causing an immediate lunge for the phone! We are now wearing watches which light up and vibrate when a text, phone call or notification comes our way! Once again, we have allowed a little device to wind our central nervous system up and it has conditioned us to react to any sound that comes from it. So what can we do to reduce this hypervigilance, which leads to anxiety and a feeling of overwhelm? Let’s consider a few proactive measures.
The Total Somatics Approach
Total Somatics considers several areas to improve our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health which collectively we refer to as our Somatic Health. Total Somatics considers Somatic Movement, Mindfulness, mindset and nutrition. In order to benefit fully, all areas are to be included. I have met many people over the years that practise Somatic Movement, however, until they address their mindset and develop mindfulness skills, their somatic movement practise will continue to hit a few figurative brick walls. It can sometimes become a mechanical exercise. The influence of our mind and self talk on our body are huge and will continue to have a less favourable impact if they aren’t addressed. I discuss this in further detail within my Online program.
Somatic mindfulness is really important because according to Greg Hassed from the Department of General Practice at Monash University, he states,
“Mindfulness helps grow new connections in the brain areas associated with concentration, self awareness and managing emotion.”
When we practice Somatic movement we also develop mindfulness. It is important that these two are closely connected because as you will experience with the FREE AUDIO I provide with this blog, focus, self-awareness and concentration are required to be fully present.
Creating time and patience to develop a mindful somatic practise is really important. Once again many times over the years I have heard people tell me the following expressions,
“I never have time.”
“I’m tired and forget.”
“I feel so much better when I practice Somatics, I just have so much on my plate that I just don't have time.”
However I often use an illustration applicable to Australians and I will share this with you! Back in the early days of Australia there was a gold rush. People came from all around the world to find their gold and happiness. It was hard work for many because they were not in the right location or didn’t have the correct equipment. Many gave up when they may have only been metres away from striking gold!
Likewise today, we all have an amazing goldmine in our head. It is priceless and much more precious than gold. We just need to know how to access it, so we can reap the amazing rewards and benefits it has for us. By developing patience, creating time and persevering, you will find that the goldmine in your head, your brain, can create a better quality of life and help you to become less reactive to daily pressures. By learning the principles within The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program, you will be aware of when your nervous system is starting to dial up the pressure and with skills and knowledge, I will teach you how to dial down the stress response.
Unlike the people during the Australian gold rush, not everybody struck gold. However we all have the ability to strike Gold by learning how our amazing brain communicates to our fantastic body. A shift in our mindset is to be adopted to make this work. We have to recognise that happiness, emotional resilience and wellness are life long pursuits and cannot be fast tracked. When we recognise this, we are less likely to adopt the modern, instant gratification mindset where people want it NOW. Adopting a healthier mindset also takes pressure off us.
Adopting the following suggestions can help us move away from our devices and look up and around:
- Consciously create time and allocate energy to areas of your life which you consider important - family, friends, hobbies, health and work. Make time for each of them by creating rituals. These rituals will become second nature if you continue to practice them.
- Get out into nature.
Create time in your day to get outside. Spend time breathing in the air. Is it cold? It is warm? What aromas can you smell? What is the temperature like on your face? Can you feel the wind and/or sun against your face? As you look up and around, what do you see? Can you focus on one specific thing? Could it be the architecture? Could it be trees? Listen to the sounds. Notice the people around you. Look for birds, butterflies or other creatures specific to your region. Savour the moment, allow areas of your brain responsible for focus, awareness and concentration become very active.
If you are unable to leave your building and there is a lot of noise around you, could you find a quiet place and listen to some calming music with your headphones? Could you picture in your mind’s eye you in relaxing, calming place? Your brain loves imagery and as soon as you begin to picture that special place with your eyes closed, allow your mind to wander. Children daydream, yet adults forget to somewhere along the line. However, take yourself to that place. What do you see? What do you hear? What is the weather like? Who is there with you? How does it smell? How does it make you feel inside? Escaping for a few minutes each day allows your central nervous system to wind down and regulate. When we either take time away from our work station to get outside or we visualise, we actually create a more productive headspace when we return to our work.
- Turn your mobile phone on to silent, remove smart watches, switch off notifications and put your devices away.
I have always found that by keeping my phone on silent has helped me not to become conditioned to reacting to every phone call, email, text and other notification. Obviously there are times you may feel it necessary to keep your phone on silent, however, being present with the person or people around you is much more important and shows a level of respect and good manners. The "busyness trap" has created anxiety, poor communication skills, as well as affecting personal and professional relationships.
- Deep Somatic breathing with Movement
Deep somatic breathing dials down the stress or the fight or flight response. When a person becomes anxious, the first area to become affected is their breath rate. When this survival response kicks in, a person’s posture will alter due to subconscious reflexes being triggered within the brainstem. The brainstem is part of the autopilot actions within the brain, the subconscious. This area tells your heart to keep beating, your breathing to continue, your digestive system to function and other subconscious actions. It also houses the postures associated with the fight or flight stress response which protects us from danger. However, unless we are aware of our stress posture and know how to stop being held captive to subconscious actions, we will continue to struggle with these issues.
Below is a FREE AUDIO I have created for you to increase your brain’s awareness to what is happening somatically and dial down the fight or flight stress response.
Below is another audio with binaural music to help slow down your brain waves to Alpha rhythm, allowing you to fully relax your mind and body.
Below is a podcast from Dr Sarah Wilson and I discussing the subject of Stress and anxiety. We discuss the subject thoroughly and provide proactive measures with somatic movement, mindset, mindfulness, nutrition and lifestyle advice.
Enjoy the content and PLEASE SHARE THIS IMPORTANT MENTAL HEALTH information with those you love and know need support.
The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program has and continues to help and guide people from all walks of life around the world. With new material constantly being uploaded to the program, you will always get new approaches and information to enhance your personal practise. Hearing from you all has been so rewarding and I love hearing how Total Somatics has really enhanced and enriched your quality of life. Please keep your messages coming and anything else you would like me to add to the program. This program is led by you. I want to ensure I cater to your needs and make it personal for you.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will endeavour to reply to every one of you.
To Learn what Somatics is and how it can help you, check out my FREE EBOOK by CLICKING HERE.
To gain the full spectrum of The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program, go to www.TotalSomatics.com and join me online.
I look forward to sharing this amazing work with you.
Heidi Hadley xx