“Nothing is permanent about our behaviour patterns except our belief that they are so.”
― Moshé Feldenkrais
Anxiety can take many forms, from panic attacks and social anxiety to phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s quite normal to feel anxiety from time to time, but for many of us, it can keep us from doing what we want to do or enjoying our lives to the fullest.
Some people might think of anxiety as a chemical imbalance while others might attribute it to early childhood experiences. Although there are many ways to try to understand why we have anxiety, the next question is usually: “How can I get rid of anxiety”? No matter how much advice we read on getting to a happier, less stressful life, the best solution is taking a proactive approach to anxiety.
By the end of this article, you’ll learn what mind-body approaches work for anxiety and stress reduction and why Mind-Body Studies (MBS) in particular is a powerful tool in your emotional toolkit. Here are four ways you can combat your anxiety with Movement Lessons from MBS’ online academy:
- Engage your curiosity.
Anxiety pushes us into places of worry, catastrophizing and narrow focus on negative future possibilities. Mostly, it locks us into limited options and tricks us into thinking that there is no way out. When we lead with curiosity, however, we open the door to new thoughts and feelings beyond the grip of anxiety.
Curiosity leads to expansion, and asking yourself the right questions during MBS movement lessons shows your brain and body that there are so many choices available to you! With a focus on the process of inquiry, MBS will allow you to practice leading yourself out of the limiting experience of your body’s anxiety response.
- Celebrate small successes.
A lot of us work out in the gym to improve their physical health, but why don’t we do the same for our mental health? The more we take a proactive approach to our mental wellbeing, the better we can feel about measuring up to life’s challenges.
At the gym, a good physical trainer will start you with what you can do, not with what you can’t. They gradually show you how to level up your exercises so you can see improvement through discipline and steady effort. At MBS, we’ve worked to create a great online curriculum that moves students through deceptively simple material. We start with noticing small differences during group lessons, gradually increasing in complexity so students learn to differentiate sensations. These physical feelings give us real-time feedback on how to improve our movement patterns. Just like going to the gym, you’ll find that practicing lessons regularly will result in better mental and physical balance, strength, and overall wellbeing.
- Give your brain something to do.
Anxiety can be characterized by hyper-focus on a negative outcome or possibility. Although meditation is a great option, it’s not the best for those of us who can’t sit still!
With MBS, we give the brain something to do: we notice different sensations and move gracefully through lessons instead of letting our thoughts lead us into worry about the future/belittling ourselves/focusing on faults and doubts. Practicing this presence of self while exercising self-compassion during movement lessons can translate easily to challenging real-life situations where mindfulness is key.
We never push ourselves to do too much, keeping it to what is easy and possible. By focusing on small changes and exploring movement options, any positive improvement that happens is merely a by-product of the playfulness and discovery that is fundamental to MBS lessons!
- Why wait? Make a different choice about your anxiety.
A great quote by Moshé Feldenkrais states, “Nothing is permanent about our behaviour patterns except our belief that they are so.”
When I was stuck in the grip of anxiety, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I sometimes thought there was no way out. When I started movement lessons with MBS, I noticed a profound difference. My nervous system started to realize that there was another way to be. With this novel alternate way of being, I could now choose between feeling anxious or a variety of other possibilities.
Lessons like [progressing side twist/diagonals] allows me to feel grounded: connected with the sensation of being supported by the floor and my own skeleton, rather than the muscular contractions of anxiety. It gives me a sense of my whole being: for me, anxiety pushes me into my head, whereas movement lessons bring me back into my body.
The MBS unit on eyes helps me use the power of imagination and sensation to connect with different ways of feeling. Throughout this process of asking, “how can I do this differently?” I notice my breath, which is so important in moving away from the often shallow breathing pattern of anxiety.
The most powerful life lesson I have found from MBS is that anxiety is a choice, and there are other options out there. Anxiety might not go away completely, but we can do things to ease the burden it places on us. We can find new ways of being and discover a moment of calm among the stress and bustle of our daily lives.
When life threatens to overwhelm, there is a certain sense of comfort in knowing that the MBS practice is there for us: lessons that show us our body’s capacity to expand into new possibilities, restore our sense of personal potential, and rediscover our sense of play.