Four Free Tools To Reduce Anxious Feelings, Fear & Stress.

Chronic stress has a a major impact on our immune health, by suppressing protective immune responses and/or exacerbating injury causing immune responses.


If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed, finding ways to calm and ease the mind and body are essential. I've used the following tools to quickly go from an 8 out of 10 level of anxiousness, down to a 4 or 5 out of 10. They are all free and easily accessed online.

Before you try them, rate your level of stress and anxious feelings. Then take a moment to reevaluate after. You might be pleasantly surprised.


1. Emotional freedom technique (EFT) and Brad Yates You Tube Videos


Emotional Freedom Technique is based on acupuncture and the meridian or energy pathways. It is also known as "tapping" since it requires physically tapping eight acupressure (or meridian) points on the face and upper body, while verbalizing a series of statements.


Although it might sound little weird, it is an evidence based tool and can be used for wide variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

My favourite You Tube videos which take you through an EFT session are by Brad Yates.

Each video is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes long and are totally free.

For an intro to tapping see this video. I'd suggest watching this first.

Here are a few favourites for you to try...

Clearing Fear and worry

Anxiety

You'll Be Okay -(Fear that things are out of your control)

Dealing with Outbreak Fear (helpful with the current pandemic)

Boost your Immune System

2. Meditation apps like Headspace and Smiling Mind


One of the most common reasons people try meditation is to reduce stress. Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can produce many harmful effects if prolonged. It can increase inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines, disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.


Studies have shown meditation can:

  • Reduce stress levels.

  • Reduce the inflammation response caused by stress

  • Improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

  • Reduce anxiety levels.

  • Promote emotional well-being.

  • Lengthen attention span.


There are a variety of different meditation strategies, and a huge range of free tools can be found on the internet. Anyone can follow along to a guided meditation and receive the benefit. It doesn't need to be for 1 hour, even just 5 to 10 minutes could help.


Check out the apps Headspace or Smiling Mind for a number of free short meditation sessions. (Though not all of the content is free, and they do contain in-app purchases).

Combine meditation with a yoga class for physical activity and additional immune support. Yoga with Adriene is a great free resource that can be found on You Tube. She offers both meditation and yoga sessions.

Also, the Gaia Meditation Channel and Dr Joe Dispenza's guided meditations are popular.


3. Breathing techniques

When stressed our breathing becomes shallow and fast which activates the sympathetic "fight or flight" nervous system. In order to activate the parasympathetic "rest and digest" nervous system we need to change the rate and pattern of our breathing.


For some great breathing exercises check out these You Tube videos:

The CALM app can also be very helpful.

Remember to breath in through your nostrils and out through your mouth. Once you've got the hang of it, it's a great tool to use before bed or if you wake in the night to calm your mind.


4. Sing or Listen to Music


Music is another way we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and trigger relaxation and calm.

Classical music or self-selected music appears to give the best response. So, perhaps head to Spotify, put your headphones on and try the "stress relief playlist" or a bit of Bach or Mozart.

Otherwise, pick your favourite songs and create your own happy playlist. Choose songs that really get your foot tapping!


If you can sing along to them, even better. Singing is a form of guided breathing, which demands a slower than normal respiration, which may in turn affect heart activity. It also stimulates the vocal cords and muscles at the back of the throat, which are innervated by a vital parasympathetic nerve called the vagus nerve.


Balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system using these techniques is needed for healthy body responses. Those with poor vagal parasympathetic responses often have a decreased heart rate variability (HRV). Decreased HRV is associated with a wide range of ill health conditions including a higher risk of early death!


So, I hope these tools help you to ease any anxious feelings you may be experiencing at this time. The benefits are huge!


Some references:

Chronic stress & its impact on our immune system

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24798553


Emotional Freedom Technique

See this article for a list of references.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381429/#bibr6-2515690X18823691


Meditation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24395196

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112004758

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24107199

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22669968

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22717699

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5946075

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/016383439500025M

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/da.21964

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26231761

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/CABN.7.2.109#page-1

https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/1979742.1979862

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810010000681

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3090218/


Music

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11796077/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12032013

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17965934


Singing

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12814197/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705176/


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