As a psychotherapist, I see lots of clients that are dealing with differing levels of anxiety on a daily basis. Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried; While stress and feelings of worry or anxiousness are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, these feelings usually pass once the stressful situation has gone.
Some signs and symptoms of Anxiety are:
· When these anxious feelings are ongoing or don't go away
· When they are triggered by no obvious or particular reason
· When they are out of proportion to the reality of the threat
· When you feel disconnected or detached from your body and
unable to control the uncomfortable feelings
Anxiety is a serious condition that can be very depleting, making it hard to cope with daily life. Manifesting on a spectrum, anxiety, if not supported can lead to more acute experiences known as panic attacks. Panic attacks are when someone feels completely dissociated by panic, fear and overwhelm, often having a physical impact including dizziness, difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate and a sense that you are losing control.
I often describe anxiety to my clients as a bully who wants to stay in control and therefore always operates from a space of the "what if", feeding thoughts around the unknowns of the future and other unsupportive narratives that exacerbate self-doubt and fear, keeping the client feeling small and powerless. When we identify anxiety as its own character or persona it can support the client to start to differentiate themselves from the feelings they are experiencing – realising that anxiety is not who they are. Although anxiety can trigger physical responses within the body, the root of anxiety actually lives in our minds, it feeds off mental energy; therefore the more we live life from our heads the more anxiety can run loose.
Through working therapeutically with a somatic focus clients can learn to connect to their bodies, re-claiming the power back from the mind and its anxious thoughts. Building connection to the body allows a whole new process of discerning and listening to the feedback of the body. One of the most supportive parts of developing connection with your body when suffering from anxiety is that the body if forever in the present moment. Therefore, this somewhat simple act of connection can be a great tool in reducing anxiety in their daily life.
Working with a therapist can support someone who experiences anxiety and panic attacks by also deepening their awareness around what triggers their anxiety. Often the therapy will support the client in pairing past experiences that have been traumatic with present experiences that are triggering the past trauma. By deepening the clients understanding around this trauma the therapy can support the client to find a level of completion within their past experiences which reduces or potentially even removes the trigger and therefore the anxiety itself.
Through working with a therapist that has a somatic focus clients are able to have professional support in developing awareness and understanding around past traumas and connecting to their bodies. These processes are vital in combating anxiety as it empowers the client both psychologically and somatically lessening or relinquishing the control of the bully we could call anxiety.