By Masha Bennett www.practicalhappiness.co.uk
These simple techniques can help with calming, relaxation, managing anxiety, and reducing overwhelm, interrupting the Fight-Flight-Freeze response. Most of these exercises have been developed by Peter Levine, the creator of Somatic Experiencing, which is a type of body psychotherapy. These are usually done whilst sitting, but you can also try them lying down or even standing up.
Put your right hand under the armpit of your left arm, and the left hand over the right upper arm. Hold your hands there gently, for a couple of minutes. Be aware of the sense of touch, the warmth (or coolness) and the weight of your hands. You may notice some relaxation and calming, or sometimes you might not – both are ok.
Put one hand on your chest/heart area, and one hand on your forehead. Hold your hands there gently, without putting pressure on, for a couple of minutes. Then, move the hand that is on your forehead to your stomach, with the other hand remaining on your heart area. Hold your hands there gently, without putting pressure on, for a couple of minutes. Just be aware of the warmth (or coolness) and the weight of your hands.
Put both of your hands over the centre of your chest. Hold your hands there gently for a couple of minutes. Just be aware of the warmth (or coolness) and the weight of your hands.
Put one hand on your forehead, and one on the back of your head, with your thumb resting at the base of your skull. Hold your hands there gently, without putting pressure on, for a couple of minutes. Just be aware of the sensation of your hands, the temperature and the weight of them. It can be a bit tiring to hold your arms up to do this exercise for more than a minute or so, and some people prefer to do this whilst lying down. If you have a friend whom you trust, you can ask them to hold your forehead and back of your head like this for a couple of minutes, which can be very relaxing.
Masha Bennett is a UKCP registered psychotherapist in private practice, specialising in psychological trauma and addictions. She has worked for a number of years within the UK criminal justice system, including running a drug rehabilitation programme in a women’s prison, and offered psychotherapy to staff and patients in the National Health Service. Masha teaches trauma awareness, therapeutic and self-help tools to professionals and general public and has delivered training across Europe, Asia and Middle East. Her website is www.practicalhappiness.co.uk