As a human being you have a natural instinct to protect yourself from harm. Your brain, through sight and hearing, stays alert to anything or situation that may be harmful. With exposure to stress, trauma and feeling unsafe, your nervous system can become somewhat stuck in protection and survival mode, even if there is no real threat.
A constant state of hypervigilance or anxiety is debilitating for body, mind and spirit. When the Covid virus first appeared it made many anxious. As a society we didn’t really understand this virus, how it would affect us or our well-being. We listened to descriptions from around the world of how the virus was impacting people’s health. We experienced a lot of change that felt scary and out of our control. This is an extreme example of your brain on anxiety and not something you face daily.
Changes in work, relationships, finances, health… can cause anxiety and disruption to your nervous system and therefore your brain. Once exposed to trauma, violence or unsafe environments your brain can become hypervigilant and wary of what bad thing or event may come next. As a mammal and a human being, your natural instinct is survival. That can be really tough at times.
So why is Craniosacral Therapy a great modality for Anxiety? At its foundation Craniosacral Therapy is relaxing and encourages the physical body to unwind and release pain and tension that may be held in muscles, fascia, tendons, etc. In a relaxed state you are likely to breathe more evenly and often more deeply which oxygenates your blood, boosts circulation, encourages the release of “feel good” hormones, etc.
What makes Craniosacral Therapy different to practices such as Reiki and Meditation, which also have similar effects on the physical body, is the focus on the cranial nerves, tension held in the scalp and the gut/brain connection of the Vagus Nerve. Craniosacral Therapy calms your Nervous System and encourages the vigilant eyes and ears to switch off or reduce their need to watch for danger. In other words it encourages the brain to feel safe.
When the Nervous System is calmed, the body has the opportunity to reset. Tension is released physically and emotionally and the majority of clients feel a deep sense of peace. With follow up sessions this message is reinforced with the brain and can create new neural pathways to lessening anxiety.
In between sessions you can reinforce these calming messages to your brain and nervous system. If you take some time to learn how you specifically respond to stress and anxiety it can help you to recognize signs before they become too intense or chronic.
Once you recognize your responses then developing cognitive and somatic coping strategies that work for you is helpful. Cognitive strategies may include speaking with a counselor or friend, journaling, art therapy, talk therapy… Somatic coping strategies may include mindful breathing, movement, grounding, meditation, creative visualization…Through practice you can increase your capacity for stillness (it takes the time you need it to take) which helps to bring you into the present moment. In this space, in this time, you are safe.