“For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.” -Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
Mind Body Connection:
Generally, we tend to forget about the mind body connection and don’t realize how connected the two are. For example, when someone experiences anxiety they will experience it in their mind and in their body.
It can look like this:
Mind: What if I never get through this loss? What will I become? I am so weak! Why can’t I just deal like other people can?
Body: Shoulders are tense, chest is heavy, stomach is in knots.
Most of the time we might notice our thoughts, but neglect our somatic symptoms.
What can I do to help with both mind and body?
So what can help us tune into our mind and our body? A mindfulness technique such as a body scan.
Body scans can help us become attuned to what is going on in our body. Normally when we experience things like anxiety, we want to avoid thoughts and sensations to protect ourselves from the feelings and somatic symptoms that come from anxiety. However, doing so increases anxiety in the future and leads us to a vicious cycle of not being able to manage what we are avoiding.
So let’s start!
Place yourself in a quiet and calming space. Once you have located your space, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Now, we will bring awareness to each body part starting at your toes and we will move up to the top of your head. As you go through each part of your body, notice the sensations while you are inhaling and exhaling. Begin at your toes, then to your calves, thighs, butt, lower back, upper back, shoulders, biceps, hands, stomach, chest, neck and finally to your head. Do any shapes come to mind when going through the scan? Colors? Weight? What is going on in your body?
How can you use a body scan to help you manage things like anxiety?
After you completed the body scan, what was going on in your body? Once you have identified the sensations you experienced while practicing the body scan, use these as your warning signs. Normally these will signal and give you a heads up when anxiety is starting to take over. When you begin to notice what your body is doing, engage in this practice to help bring you to the present moment and quiet your mind.I hope after engaging in this practice, you feel less stressed, less tension, and you feel more relaxed.
Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.
Until next time!
Claudia Stanley, LMSW