Emotions and Anxiety

I thought I’d share my experience with using Mind-Body approaches, including somatic tracking and emotional expression work, around anxiety. I can remember struggling with anxiety as far back as middle school, and in high school it got to the point where I had a full panic attack in front of my family. Fortunately, my mom was pretty pro-therapy, and I was lucky enough to be able to work with a therapist and learn about managing stress and generalized anxiety. That knowledge helped me through high school, college, and grad school.

When COVID hit though, I was transferred from my outpatient clinic at a large medical center onto the floors working with patients with active COVID. Not only that, but my roommates moved out (worried about my exposure to COVID on inpatient floors) and I went through a breakup after a 4 year relationship. Would’ve been perfect material for a sorrowful country song. And it was fertile ground for my anxiety to grow into a large and unwieldy beast.

I happened to be doing a lot of learning about Mind-Body approaches to pain at the time though, and found a special resonance with the work of James Pennebaker on expressive writing. I learned to better express and label my emotions on paper, and found this enormously helpful for moving through feelings of overwhelm, loneliness and fear. As I was taking Alan Gordon’s class on PRT, I also realized that I could use somatic tracking on my feelings of anxiety, and that the more I did this, over time the less intense those waves of anxiety became. Anxiety still comes up for me at times, but never lasts long and feels much more manageable with those tools in hand.

Does anybody else here have experience using Mind-Body approaches to anxiety? What’s worked for you?

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beautiful Jordan. Thank for sharing. Both journaling and paying kind, caring attention to emotionally-charged bodily sensations have been very helpful for me throughout the years.

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Hi Jordan @jkelley ! Thank you for sharing. I too have found that practicing somatic tracking for emotions is so helpful. When I first started working with somatic tracking, it was really interesting to notice how much effort I had put into trying to move away from physical pain AND uncomfortable sensations associated with emotions. I have come to think of somatic tracking for anxiety and other emotions like holding space for a child to feel their feelings, instead of trying to quiet them, or find some solution to make their big emotions go away. When I am experiencing strong emotions, I now imagine showing up as an unconditional and loving presence, re-assuring myself that the sensations associated with the emotion are safe to have, and that I am here with me as long as the emotions/ sensations need to be here. Emotions that at times felt so overwhelming, including anxiety, now feel easier to be with and have a way of moving through me instead of feeling stuck and uncomfortable. I think both the expressive writing and somatic tracking provide a safe and loving space for emotions to be felt and expressed. Thanks for opening up this conversation!

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