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Filtering by Category: Anxiety Treatment

Scheduling Solitude

Scott Lilleston

Our culture tends to view solitude as negative.

Solitude often carries a social stigma that implies isolation and loneliness. But solitude isn’t the same as isolation. The perceived sense of isolation seems to imply that being on one’s own is not a choice, but rather a character weakness when an individual disengages socially. Of course there are times when people experience social anxiety and feel withdrawn. But solitude is quite different. It’s an active choice to retreat inwards to restore from the activity of the world.

Unlike solitude, loneliness implies that you feel as if something is missing and you need it in order to feel secure and happy. States of loneliness can actually lead to panic attacks or depression, because there is often a void in a person’s life that can create an existential threat.

Loneliness is typically a triggering experience, such as a reminder of abandonment. Solitude, usually generates a sense of peace. Although learning to explore solitude may be scary for some in the beginning, it will most likely serve as a cornerstone for relaxation and development.

Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.

Solitude is something you choose.

We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.

Solitude restores body and mind.

Taking this type of down time allows us to drop our “social guards.” It is an opportunity to listen to our intuition, make better choices and take advantage of our inner guidance and wisdom. Solitude is an opportunity to see where we are swayed by external influences, such as belief systems, attitudes, and behaviors that make up our social sphere.

Learning how to be alone is essential in knowing what one wants in relationship. It is nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship when one is unable to be alone with him or herself.

The first relationship we must start with is the one we have with ourselves.

I propose that you give yourself the gift of your own time and energy. You are worth it.

In today's connected world, practicing solitude seems to be a lost art. Yet it is essential that we do not forget that solitude is necessary and healthy. The physical and psychological benefits to spending time alone serve as powerful evidence.

Post Election Support

Scott Lilleston

The events of this year’s election have shaken many of us to the core.

The intensity of emotions we are experiencing are confusing, at times painful, and very real. Many people have been deeply impacted in a wide variety of ways.

I know that for me and many of my clients, one of the greatest challenges has been staying in relationship with friends and family who have differing opinions from our own. This is one of the areas that I am working on with a number of clients these days—the practice of taking care of ourselves in the after-effects of the election.

If you feel that you are grieving, it is essential to take very good care of yourself. Sometimes taking care of yourself can mean staying away from triggering people and situations. Check in and see what boundaries you need to hold when surrounded by those with differing opinions from you.

It is important, though, to remember that “Contact is the appreciation of differences,” as famed Gestalt psychotherapist Fritz Perls says. And later Gestalt thought leader, Dick Price, adds, “And recognition of similarities.” This can be quite helpful for us to keep in mind when we enter into conversation with those who have differing views from our own.

It helps to keep a curious and open mind when entering such conversations. Imagine how diverse opinions can ultimately help us find compassion in others that are different from who we are.

When we approach conversations from a place of curiosity, we can create the opportunity for less reactive, more engaged and possibly more fruitful dialogue.

I would like to offer a few tips as you navigate this period:

1. Take your time to process your feelings about the election.

2. If you notice that your everyday functioning is being impaired, reach out and get professional support.

3. Connect with others who are sharing your experience of shock, anger, or grief. Connecting with your community can help ease feelings of isolation and depression.

4. Start or continue your own personal work. Now, more than ever, we are each being called to be conscious of the painful parts in ourselves and others that creates divisiveness in our homes, communities, and country.

5. As much as possible, return to the present and challenge future-oriented thoughts. While it’s normal and natural for our minds to race ahead, we simply don’t know what the coming weeks, months, and years will hold. Work to come back to the present, grounding yourself in the safety of your present reality, and continue taking very good care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

How Massage Can Help With Anxiety

Scott Lilleston

Can you recall the last time someone lovingly touched you? Perhaps it was a snuggle from your child before bed, a hug from your partner or even a simple handshake with a good friend.

How did this contact make you feel? What happened to your heart rate? To the pace of your breathing? Your energy level?

Throughout my many years as a massage therapist, I have witnessed countless examples of how the healing power of touch can leave a lasting positive impact on clients' nervous systems. I have also learned that the calming benefit of massage paired with a set of well-honed skills in gentle interventions is invaluable!

Massage affects more aspects of our mental and physical health than most people imagine. For example: when stress is elevated, it is felt by the body. In particular, our nervous systems will tend to stay in a hyper-aroused state. There is a residual effect on many other systems of the body as well that manifests as the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Massage calms the nervous system when it is stuck in a hyper-aroused state from stimuli and other triggers in our life. With massage, touch often gives the experience of  being “grounding”. Through touch, we return to our body, feeling grounded in the moment and allowing for a wider spectrum of feeling and sensation to flood our experience.

When you alleviate the physical patterns of anxiety through touch, you will find that your body returns to a state of balance and ease, and away from the constant fight or flight response we are all so accustomed to, particularly in this culture.

Massage provides a safe and nurturing opportunity for individuals to relax, refocus and find more clarity. It is a way of settling back into the body.

We can then explore the patterns that disrupt harmony and balance, and collaboratively work to minimize the unnatural state of heightened anxiety that is all too familiar to most people. With anxiety out of the way, imagine the possibilities of health, healing and inspiration!

Is It a Physical Issue or Are You Just Anxious? Using Mindfulness to Overcome Anxiety

Higher Practice

We often don’t realize that our body has been whispering (or perhaps shouting) clues to us all along. Caught up in our busy lives, we notice physical symptoms crop up that we commonly try to fix with medication. In a hurry to move on with our lives, we don’t always take the time to get to the root of the problem.

For example, you might realize that after months of pain in your right shoulder, your entire body has become incredibly tense, sending the message that you need to slow down. You might discover that your digestive issues that you spent a fortune trying to heal with probiotics and medication, were warning signals from your intelligent body that you need to attend to something else in your life.

Physical ailments such as these are just a couple examples of hundreds of conditions that people suffer from on a daily basis.

Overtime, many of these ailments actually fall under one of the single largest health issue our society faces. It’s commonly referred to as an anxiety disorder and it affects nearly 40 million US adults, which is about 18% of the population.

This number is too large to ignore and those who suffer from its unreasonable and spiraling nature know that anxiety is more than being nervous or edgy. Anxiety has a myriad of physical symptoms. It can be a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, digestive problems, tensions in the body, difficulty breathing to name just a few.

There is a way to overcome this pandemic. If you have been proactive in your healing journey, and ruled out other sources of your physical problems, it’s important to be able to acknowledge that you may have been suffering from a form of anxiety the entire time. Once you are able to recognize that this might be at the root of your symptoms, try looking at how your bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, and storylines have contributed to this problem in an interconnected web.

Often, as we begin to develop a relationship to ourselves in this way we come to discover certain thought patterns and behaviors that we have carried with us for years, maybe decades, that have perpetuated underlying fears, pain, and other intense emotions. This leads to physical symptoms in the body, and, ultimately, an overall feeling of anxiety or impeding doom.

To tackle anxiety at the core, we must face all the gritty feelings and sensations that we have ignored. This is where the practice of mindfulness comes in as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. As a practitioner of the Hakomi method, a body-centered psychotherapeutic technique, I believe that the body is a reservoir of information and stored experience that can shed light on how to move forward in the present.

When you are caught in the middle of it, anxiety feels anything but good or helpful. It is likely anywhere from frustrating to intrusive to downright terrifying. Yet, anxiety has much to teach us. If we ask ourselves the right questions during moments of intense anxiety, we might discover some much needed answers.

The questions to ask yourself are: “Where do I feel the anxiety in my body?” and “What sensations, specifically, am I experiencing in this moment?”

Mindfulness as an antidote to anxiety requires remaining present to fully experiencing the symptoms of tension in the body. We might begin to notice how we attach meaning to these sensations, believing that our negative and reactive thoughts are the truth.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, fully facing the thoughts and sensations we associate with anxiety enables us to overcome and let go of what we are truly afraid of. Mindfulness is a training practice for the mind—as you become increasingly more confident in your ability to track sensations in your body and not getting jarred by anxiety in the same way, you will discover an incredible tolerance for disruptive thoughts.

By not responding to a sense of threat that doesn’t typically even exist, we break the cycle, and eventually overcome the chronic state of anxiety.

In other words, by accepting the uncertainty and confronting what’s actually bothering you, an entire world of possibility opens that is free from unnecessary suffering and self-imposed limitations. All you have to do is decide to do it differently. Mindfully.