Tapping to Release Unresolved Emotions

Tapping brow

Tapping chin

Tapping collar

 

Unresolved emotions can be contributors to both anxiety and chronic pain.

 

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping) can help you release unresolved emotions from your energy system.

Learn more about Tapping.

Got Pain? Heal your Emotions – Part 1

Neuroscience now proves what the Buddha taught 2500 years ago. We are WHOLE beings… mind, body and emotions are related and integrated.

This is my first of a series of articles exploring the connection between emotional healing and physical healing.

My meditation teacher S.N. Goenka said “Physical sensations are experienced in the body but the feeling comes from the mind…the deepest part of the mind, where unconscious patterns are causing automatic reactions.”

Sensations in the body do not exist separate from the mind. This means we can heal the body by 2 methods – through working on the physical body AND through working on healing the mind and emotions.

This just makes sense because we know that the brain runs the show. Your body doesn’t function without your brain. It’s all connected.

Pain and Your Brain: Neuroscience Research

Thanks to a quickly growing body of neuroscience research, we are learning more about the sources of chronic pain. We can see through functional MRI’s that physical and emotional pain both activate the same regions in the brain.

Here’s 4 critical things the research shows about physical pain and emotions:

#1. The same neural circuity is activated when you experience physical pain as when you experience emotional pain.

Examples: In a landmark fMRI study in 2003, similar areas of the brain were activated during a social rejection scenario (emotional pain) and during the application of a heat wand to the volunteer’s forearm (physical pain).

In another study, when subjects visualized a time of past relationship breakup (emotional pain), both the emotional and the physical pain centers lit up.

Bottom line: Physical pain and emotional pain are the SAME in your brain.

#2. Anger increases pain.  Many research papers have shown a relationship between anger and increased pain.

#3. Blame increases pain. Studies also show that people who blame their problems on other people or situations have more pain.

#4. Anxiety increases pain. The connection between physical pain and anxiety is a double whammy – it goes both ways!   Pain creates anxiety; anxiety increases pain.

Back Surgeon Eliminates Surgeries with Emotional Healing

One of my favorites books on this topic is “Back in Control” by Dr. David Hanscom, MD. He is a back surgeon who specializes on only on the worst, most chronic and complicated back problems.

He won’t even schedule back surgery for patients until they first do 8-12 weeks of emotional healing and calming of the nervous system.

His prerequisite 12-week program focuses on emotional healing to:

• Reduce anxiety
• Reduce negative thinking
• Reduce anger
• Give up “victim thinking”
• Increase proactive self-care
• Create a vision for recovery
• Create a vision for long term productive, happy living

After doing that emotional healing work, he finds that many patients actually cancel their back surgery because the pain goes away! He’s working his way out of a job and healing people without surgery.

More Connections

The Physical Therapy field is getting on board with the connection between emotions and pain. I was thrilled to learn recently that Marquette’s Physical Therapy graduate program now includes coursework about the role that neural circuitry plays in chronic pain.

So, the discipline of physical therapy (a very “physical” discipline) also understands that your thoughts and emotions are important contributors to chronic pain.

Much research also shows that Adverse Childhood Experiences affect your brain’s neural circuitry and are correlated with development of physical illnesses later in life. Mind and emotions affect body.

Check out my Mind Over Medicine article and be prepared to be astounded to see very concrete examples of how the mind alone creates real physical effects in the body.

The connection between emotional healing and physical healing is becoming clearer and clearer across disciplines (showing what Buddha knew all along).

In my next article, I’ll share my own profound experience of healing my body with my mind. I’ll also dig deeper into emotional aspects of pain and what you can do to heal.

DIY Moisturizers for Inflammation and Anxiety

Lots of research is showing the connection between increased inflammation levels in the body and increased anxiety. This makes reducing inflammation a great wellness strategy.

My colleague Trudy Scott is a nutritionist specializing in anxiety. Check out her blog for some great recipes using essential oils to create your own moisturizers for helping with inflammation and anxiety.

Click HERE to read more about recent research re: skin moisturizer reducing markers of inflammation, and also the role of inflammation on anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Click HERE for some DIY recipes with anxiety-reducing essential oils.

Visit a Forest

Numerous studies in Japan have tested participants’ responses to viewing scenery for 15 minutes in either a forest environment or an urban area.

Forest environments were perceived as significantly more comfortable and soothing, and had noticeable positive effects on people’s moods compared with urban environments.

Those viewing the forested areas, reported significant decrease in negative feelings such as “tension, anxiety, depression, dejection, anger, hostility, fatigue and confusion.”

* Read the whole article by my colleague Trudy Scott! 

My Favorite Products for Sleep and Anxiety

This is the first time ever I am revealing my own personal Top Favorite products. This is Part 2 focused on products for sleep.

Anxiety and sleep problems go hand-in-hand so sleep must often be addressed in order to manage anxiety.

In addition to many effective things you can to do improve sleep, here are some of my favorite products that can help you sleep better.

If you missed Part 1 on my favorite products for anxiety and happiness, check it out HERE. 

Fitbit Alta HR

I can pretty much guarantee you are not getting enough sleep and/or enough quality sleep. Fitbit Alta HR is the best way I know to really find out.

Not all Fitbits are created equal when it comes to usefulness for improving sleep via detailed sleep tracking data. Fitbit Alta HR gives you better data than other Fitbits about your sleep stages and sleep patterns.

This data will help guide your troubleshooting process. It helped me make several improvements in sleep that make a real difference in my life.

I love, love, love my Fitbit Alta HR.

CBD products

It’s the biggest craze of 2019.  And for good reason.  It’s great for sleep and many other things (especially anxiety).  CBD oil and capsules are great for insomnia and can help with getting to sleep faster and staying asleep longer.

My favorite CBD product specifically for sleep is the CbdMD brand and the name of the product is “CBD PM Oil” which combines CBD with melatonin, as well as Valerian root, Passionflower extract, Cascade Hops, Chamomile flower and Lemon Balm. 

Learn a lot more in my recent CBD article and find out why I’m fan.

Sleep Stories with Calm App

Sleep Stories are meant to take you back to a simpler mental state and let your brain relax and transition from a busy day into time for deep rest, just like bedtime stories did when you were young.

Stories are read in a very soothing tone and carefully designed to ease and lull the mind. The free version of the app has a few stories about things like lavender fields or magical waterfalls, and the full version has more stories.

 

Coffea Cruda

Homeopathy is a natural system of supplements that has been around for at least 100 years. Homeopathic remedies are inexpensive, small pellets dissolved under the tongue.

Coffea Cruda is a homeopathic derived from the coffee bean. It is very useful for the person who has mind racing that gets in the way of sleep. I leave mine right on my nightstand.

This product and recommendations for use can be found at most health food stores.

Badger Sleep Balm

At bedtime I use this soothing balm made of organic Bergamot, Lavender and other calming essential oils. It works topically and I also put it on my lips, nostrils and under my nose for aromatherapy.

Guided Mindful Belly Breathing Meditation 

This product showed up on my favorite list of products for anxiety too.

It seems a little weird to list my own product as a favorite, but this Mindful Belly Breathing Meditation.  It calms the nervous system so well that many people swear by the guided audio meditation for use before bedtime to fall asleep.

See a Functional Medicine Practitioner

If a doctor has ever told you that anxiety is “all in your head” or that “there’s nothing wrong with you,” it might be worth investigating a functional medicine approach.

Functional medicine is a different way of looking at wellness and health which focuses on resolving the root cause of imbalances rather than traditional medicine which focuses on disease and symptoms.

For example, a good functional medicine practitioner can help identify when there are physical conditions contributing to anxiety. This could include all sorts of things such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, adrenal exhaustion, mitral valve prolapse, high blood pressure, Lyme disease, hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, hormonal imbalances and more!

P.S. I can highly recommend my own functional medicine nurse practitioner, Cherri Schleicher of C&S Holistic Family Health and Wellness.

Ironic Solutions You’ve Been Avoiding

In our “crazy busy” culture that keeps moving faster and faster each day, most of us want to:

o Get more done
o Be more productive
o Get rid of stress and anxiety
o Generally “toughen up” (to do more of all of the above)

We get in an endless loop of more To-Do’s and multi-tasking. It all seems to result in more stress, less sleep and less sense of accomplishment.

Is there anything that can be done to reduce all that stress and get off the hamster wheel?

Do the Opposite

It’s quite ironic that your solution is actually the opposite of what you think it should be. The ironic solutions are sometimes quite obvious. Other times we chalk up the ironic solutions as ridiculous and avoid trying them.

Problem: Want more productivity and want to accomplish more?
Ironic Solution: Learn how to develop a slow gear

Instead of constantly focusing on speeding up, doing more, and checking things off the list…slow down. Disengage from technology and to-do lists and future-oriented thinking for a little while each day.

You will become more present and focused when you return to the work at hand. Your mind needs time to process all the inputs (i.e. stress) of the day. With a quieter mind and a state of mindfulness, you will naturally become more productive. Ironically, it happens more easily when we slow down than when we frantically try harder to be more productive.

Problem: Want to get more done in a day? 
Ironic Solution: Sleep more

Not getting enough sleep can cause:

• irritability
• lack of mental clarity
• reduced executive functioning in the brain leading to:
        o poor decision-making
        o poor prioritization
        o poor analytical ability
• forgetfulness or memory loss
• brain fog
• reduced time management skill
• reduced productivity
• reduced focus
• depression (worsens all of the above symptoms)
• anxiety (worsens all of the above symptoms)

It’s easy to see how staying up later to get more done simply does not work in the long run. Ironically, doing that repeatedly will lead to getting much less done in a day (along with increased frustration).

Problem: Want to stop procrastinating on something? 
Ironic Solution: Stop avoiding it and go face it

This sounds so obvious that it can sound irritating. Here are examples of some very common situations that cause anxiety and are often avoided:

Di Philippi, MA, LPC, Holistic Anxiety Therapist, Milwaukee• driving, especially on the freeway or during rush hour
• public speaking
• social events where you might be judged or be put on the spot
• new situations (creating fear of the unknown)
• crowded situations where you might feel “trapped”

The more we find something uncomfortable, the more we avoid it. Yet avoidance is the worst strategy. The situation will continue to have power over you the more you avoid it.

The ironic solution in psychology terms is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) or Exposure therapy. ERP is a part of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It provides a very safe and systematic way to face those things that feel like demons. With avoidance, the demons always live on.

Problem: Want to be stronger and tougher in times of stress?
Ironic Solution: Learn and practice self-compassion

Do the opposite of what your inner critic says. Stop being so hard on yourself and demanding that you just “buck up” and “get over” the difficult and stressful parts of life.

An article in the Washington Post titled “Be Kinder to Yourself” explores this concept of self-compassion. It talks about a 2017 study that found that people who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to handle stress better. Other research confirms this.

So, ironically, being kinder and gentler to yourself actually does make you stronger in the face of stress. Self-compassion makes it easier to move through stress. Practice quieting your inner drill sergeant.

Say Ahhh

This technique is adapted from author Jonathan Goldman. He says that simple, self-created vocal sounds such as elongated vowels like “ah”, “oh” or even an “mmm” humming sound can have profound and positive effects on your physical, mental and emotional states.

For example, Goldman says these sounds can:

1. Calm your nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and can reduce levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol.
2. Increase melatonin, a hormone which helps us sleep at night.
3. Release endorphins—those self-created “feel good” brain chemicals.

Feeling stress or anxiety? Take a nice deep breath and sound forth with an “ah” a few times….or just hum for a minute or two. No one will hear you but you’ll feel a lot more relaxed almost instantly.

Essential Oils: Try lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli

In a recent study, 83 participants with high blood pressure were tested to see whether essential oil inhalation would have an effect on blood pressure and cortisol levels (cortisol is the most common “stress chemical” that can be measured).

Participants were asked to inhale an essential oil blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli with the following ratio (20 : 15 : 10 : 2).

The study group experienced the relaxation effects of this particular blend of essential oils leading to:

• significant decreases in cortisol levels
• reduced blood pressure
• stress reduction

Favorite for Anxiety: Mindful Belly Breathing

Believe it or not, the number one best way to ease anxiety is to BREATHE…as long as you do it the right way.

What I’m talking about here is learning a specific technique of conscious breathing, which is quite different from what we do moment-to-moment as part of our daily living.

If you take a minute to become aware of your breathing right now, you’ll find you are probably breathing short, shallow breaths into your lungs. This is how most of us breathe most of the time – unconsciously.

When you’re feeling anxious, you tend to unconsciously “overbreathe” with shorter, faster breaths into the lungs and chest.

This creates an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide which can result in symptoms including:

racing heart, breathlessness, dizziness, hot flashes or chills, and distorted thinking such as fear that something terrible will happen.

The Deep Breath Myth

There is a common misconception that taking a “deep” breath is the key. While the deep breath may be useful for some purposes, it is not the best for calming anxiety.

When you take a deep breath, you are making a sudden and significant change to your breath. Your amygdala (the “caveman” part of the brain that regulates the fight-or-flight response) does NOT like sudden change. Instead of relaxing, your brain goes on high alert when there is any sudden change because your amygdala wants to make sure there is no sabretooth tiger coming to threaten your safety.

Your brain can relax when breathing is calm, even and predictable, without sudden change.

Master the specific technique

The specific form of Mindful Belly Breathing described here is designed to reduce anxiety by calming your brain AND creating a real physiological change for your nervous system (activating the parasympathetic nervous system).

This can only be done by using the proper technique consisting of 2 parts:

1. lowering the focus of your breathing to the belly/diaphragm area (diaphragmatic breathing)
2. controlling the pace and size of each inhale and exhale (respiratory control).

This breathing technique is Mindful due to the addition of respiratory control. Diaphragmatic breathing alone can be helpful for many things, but what makes Mindful Belly Breathing so effective for anxiety is the combination of Mindful respiratory control + Belly Breathing.

Mindful Belly Breathing can be done anywhere, anytime! I teach this to most of my clients and literally every single client has reported a benefit from Mindful Belly Breathing.

How to do it:

1. Place one hand on your belly.
2. Inhale and exhale through your nose only, with each breath “normal-sized” and comfortable for you.
3. Lower the focus of your breathing by slowing pushing out your belly/diaphragm as you inhale and slowly pulling in your diaphragm as you exhale. Imagine a balloon in your belly that fills with each inhale and deflates with each exhale.
4. Notice the movements of your hand: you should see your hand moving up and down on your stomach as you breathe.
5. Now pace your breathing in a predictable and even way by silently saying to yourself:

“Inhale – 2 – 3 – Relax… Exhale – 2 – 3 – Relax”

Want help learning Mindful Belly Breathing?

You may like my downloadable Less Stress Now CD.

How you know it’s working

Here’s a little test to show you what a big difference Mindful Belly Breathing makes:

1. Stand up and just breathe normally
2. Look into a full-length mirror. Look sideways so you can see your profile. Go ahead and suck in your stomach to look your best (yes, we all do that sometimes!).
3. Now breathe while still holding your stomach in. Notice that only your chest is moving up and down with each breath. This is more or less what happens when anxiety kicks in. Notice how the airflow is restricted. Notice the pace of your breath. Does this create any feelings of anxiety or discomfort?
4. Let your stomach relax now and re-start your Mindful Belly Breathing. Notice how much more air you’re taking in now. Notice the sense of calm this brings.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any new skill or tool, Mindful Belly Breathing requires practice. You want this tool available to you in times of extreme anxiety, right?

Well, in those moments of anxiety your ability to think straight and remember what to do next can be very limited. In order to break that cycle, you need to be able to start Mindful Belly Breathing automatically – your body will remember what to do only if you’ve practiced regularly.

Make Mindful Belly Breathing a daily habit and it’s an investment…you’ll be able to use it anytime, anywhere to help you break free from anxiety. Regain control of your breath, your clear thinking, your physical/body sensations, and your life!