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Why Do I Have Anxiety?
Exploring the root of Anxiety and a path to healing
Before we dive into this post, I want to say a few really important things:
You are NOT broken. I wholeheartedly believe that, and if there is one thing that keeps my clients feeling stuck, it’s feeling like there is irreparable damage or that their mind/body is working against them. There is nothing WRONG with you, even though it may FEEL like there is. The human body - YOUR human body is capable of incredibly miraculous things - healing is one of them. Given the right supportive conditions, I believe anything is possible. Though it may take time, and practice.
This is a general overview of how anxiety works & where it can stem from. Take what is helpful to you. Leave what is not.
It is one thing to know something (with the mind) it is another to embody it. To put it into practice. To live it. To move information from the mind to the body is the most courageous step toward healing.
When we talk about the nervous system, we are discussing a part of the body that is UNCONSCIOUS. Meaning - You can’t rationalize with it, or convince yourself. It’s part of the Autonomic nervous system - the same system that digests food - something you can’t think yourself into doing. So while YOU may know that you are safe, there’s something in your physiology that doesn’t know that and no amount of thinking will change it. This is why I’ve found so much relief with this body-first approach…
Anxiety can manifest in various forms, from mild unease to crippling panic attacks. It can shape-shift from spinning thoughts to physical pain. Chances are if you are reading this, you or someone you love has experienced it or is struggling with it today. I’m writing this blog post for those who grapple with anxiety, to understand its purpose. In this blog post, we'll delve into the concept of anxiety through the lens of Peter Levine's work on Somatic Experiencing, exploring why we have anxiety and how this approach can help in the healing process.
The Purpose of Anxiety
It’s pretty strange to think that anxiety has a purpose. Anxiety, in its essence, is the body's way of alerting us to potential threats or dangers in our environment. Dr. Russell Kenndy in his book Anxiety RX refers to this as “the alarm bell.” When confronted with a perceived threat, our bodies initiate the "fight-or-flight" response, which floods us with stress hormones like adrenaline. This response is meant to prepare us to either confront the danger head-on or escape from it.
The Alarm bell in our bodies can be turned on in physical danger, but also in a modern context, day-to-day stressors as well.
In a modern context, these threats are a little bit more subtle, and constant. The alarm bell can be turned on not only from immediate physical threats but also things like work pressures, micro-aggressions, relationship challenges, and financial concerns, conflicting cultural expectations. While these situations may not pose the same physical dangers our ancestors faced, our bodies respond similarly, triggering the alarm bell in our bodies as a way to prepare us to deal with perceived threats.
Where Does Anxiety Come From?
Peter Levine, a renowned therapist and author, has developed a groundbreaking approach to healing trauma and anxiety called Somatic Experiencing (SE). This is one of the healing modalities I’m trained in, and the main way I approach working with my clients and teaching my classes. SE recognizes that anxiety often stems from unresolved trauma, and it seeks to address the root causes of this anxiety by working directly with the body's sensations and responses.
“Trauma” sounds like a loaded scary word - but we all have it.
One of the definitions of trauma is “too much too fast too soon...” in other words, trauma is not just about major life-threatening events; it can also result from seemingly less severe incidents that overwhelm an individual's ability to cope or process for any number of reasons.
When the nervous system is overwhelmed, that alarm bell can get easily stuck in the ”on” position, and easily triggered by, well… anything.
How We Can Heal
Is it possible to heal our trauma? Is it possible to heal anxiety?
Yes. This is how we do it... (A brief and simplistic outline of a very profound process)
Reconnecting with the Body: SE encourages individuals to become more aware of their body's sensations and responses. By doing so, they can begin to identify areas of tension and discomfort related to their anxiety. In the Somatic Series for Alchemizing Anxiety Group Classes, we spend a good chunk of class time doing a variety of exercises that will help you get to know our nervous system.
Safety and Support: SAFETY is absolutely key because remember, anxiety is a response to real or perceived threat. So helping the body identify safety and feel safe in safety (trippy I know) it’s essential. In private sessions, safety is always the primary focus for healing, as it allows individuals to process traumatic memories and emotions.
Completing the Fight-or-Flight Response: SE focuses on helping individuals complete the interrupted "fight-or-flight" responses that may have occurred during traumatic experiences. (Aka the alarm bells that are stuck on) By gradually and safely allowing the body to discharge the energy built up during these events, SE helps release the physical tension associated with anxiety.
This 6-week class series is not only to give you the information to help understand why anxiety is happening, but it is also meant to help you actually apply the knowledge gained to your day-to-day life.
These classes are not cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all mental health tips. You'll learn the language of your body & self-regulation techniques to manage anxiety as it arises. This newfound sense of control can be a game-changer for those who have felt helpless in the face of their anxiety.
While we can't completely get rid of anxiety in 6 weeks, you WILL have a wide variety of tools to implement to decrease anxiety overall. The knowledge gained & practices will allow you to take a massive step forward in building more self-compassion, self-trust, and a sense of peace.
The class itself is focused on the psycho-education that is fundamental for transforming your relationship with your anxiety. Because of this, the trauma rehabilitation part of your healing is an optional piece that can be explored through discounted 1:1 sessions throughout the duration of the class series.
Anxiety is a natural response that has evolved to keep us safe, but it can become overwhelming and disruptive when rooted in unresolved trauma. Somatic Experiencing offers a unique and effective approach to healing anxiety by working directly with the body's sensations and responses. By building a relationship with your nervous system, and getting support to complete cycles of stuck activation in the body, you can reconnect with your body, and gradually heal from the impact of trauma. If you're grappling with anxiety, join the Somatic Series for Alchemizing Anxiety, sign up for private coaching, or check out other resources on my website to find lasting relief and empowerment.
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