Anxiety is part of our make-up as people, it’s built deeply into our brains to protect us. At appropriate times and in the right measure it is necessary and helpful to us. But it can get stuck, leaving us feeling uncomfortable and overwhelmed with life. In recent groups we have looked at some practical ways of managing difficult feelings with self-compassion and managing stress .
Today we looked at some other ideas to combat anxiety, or at least to feel calmer. Starting with our senses, specifically we looked into, or rather had a good inhale of some essential oils. Top of the recommended list for anxiety is Lavender, there is some small-scale research finding that lavender lowered anxiety levels for people at the dentist and for watching scary movies. Also recommended for anxiety are Rose, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Chamomile and Frankincense. We also tried smelling Geranium, Peppermint, Citrus and interestingly Thyme-not an immediate go to for anxiety, but because it helps to open up respiratory functions which become restricted in anxiety, this can help.
Following the sensual start, we turned again to self-compassion meditative exercises. Focusing on deeper breathing is immediately helpful for calming anxiety. But a new practise we are learning is how to sit with uncomfortable feelings. Our default reaction to feeling horrible is to kick against the feeling, get rid of the thought and just get out of feeling uncomfortable. However, in this exercise, in a hopefully slightly more relaxed state of deeper breathing, we felt where the anxiety maybe sitting in us, we may feel it in our stomach, or rising to our chest, even blocking our throat, in our heads, behind our eyes or in a generalised tense state of tight muscles and high shoulders. So we paid attention to it, focused on where it was, visualised it, could we start to soften the shape of it? Conversely, focusing on it did seem to have a calming effect! Maybe we do feel a little bit braver and able to handle things better when we find the courage to face them head on.
The other huge assistance which group members reported in being able to manage anxiety was the friendship and support of the group. Knowing that people are there for you, understanding how you feel without judgement is a huge support for people, knowing that this group very much holds people who face regular challenges in life.
This is an interesting article on anxiety from huffington Post