A Guide to Therapies to Reduce Anxiety and Improve General Wellbeing
There are various ways therapy can help to support us, the most important thing is to find one that works for you. We are all different and will respond in various ways to therapy, what works wonders for one person may not be suitable for someone else. This is a guide of some of the most popular forms of therapy techniques that you might want to consider.
Talking therapies may be the key to coping with anxiety and learning how to reduce your stress levels. Below are 3 of the most popular types of talking therapies which have been researched and shown to improve feelings of wellbeing and reduce the impact of stress.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
This may be delivered by a therapist with special training in CBT or a psychologist and involves talking about the way you analyse external information. You will be encouraged to look at how you think when you are feeling anxious or stressed and guided on ways to reflect and discover how to respond with positive actions. The goal is to alter your thought patterns to learn how to become more resilient to external influence and how your thinking impacts the way your body physically responds, as well as your mind. You may have exercises to complete between sessions and to be effective CBT will normally require multiple sessions over a period of time. Another way to access CBT is online, there are numerous free courses below are just a couple of links to ones I have found. https://llttf.com/ https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/step1.htm
Counselling and Psychotherapy
Counselling gives you the freedom to explore what's going on in your daily life and also reflect on how past experiences have shaped your thinking and behavioural patterns. Many people find that even just 1 or 2 counselling sessions can help them to understand more about themselves and find ways to cope with stress or anxiety when it arises in their lives.
Psychotherapy will normally consist of multiple sessions over some time. This therapy goes deeper into your past, to explore how your thinking and subsequent actions, have developed over time, and to help you to find ways to break patterns of negative thinking.
Check that your therapist is a member of a nationally recognised body such as the BPS, BACP, BABCP or BSCH
Hypnosis is an alternative form of talking therapy that utilises the power of the subconscious mind, to help you find ways to lower your anxiety or stress levels. Participants often report to feeling relaxed and extremely calm after hypnotherapy sessions and it can be effective after only 1 session although multiple sessions may be required to achieve long term results.
'The researchers found that when the hypnotizable patients underwent hypnosis, the parts of their brains associated with recognizing the surrounding environment and the patients’ actions were less active and that the networks associated with mind-body communication were more connected than usual.' https://qz.com/744674/neuroscientists-say-that-hypnosis-could-actually-help-you-focus-better/
You can find a qualified hypnotist on the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the General Hypnotherapy Register. https://www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com/
Sense of smell comes from the olfactory nerve which when a smell is detected will send signals to the brain, triggering emotions, memories, and physical reactions, such as, increased respiration and heart rate. Aromatherapy uses essential oils that can be diffused into the air or directly applied to the skin. Research has shown a link between lower stress levels, reduced anxiety, and better sleep, in individuals using specific aromatherapy essential oils.
'Essential oils, like lavender, have even been shown to interact the same way biochemically that many anti-anxiety medications do on neuroreceptors.' https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/urban-survival/201604/six-aromatherapy-essential-oils-stress-relief-and-sleep
Acupuncture has been recognised as a component of traditional Chinese medicine, used to treat anxiety, stress, and pain. An Acupuncturist undertakes extensive training to know how to insert of fine needles, half a millimeter away from a nerve, into specific acupuncture points.
Led by Eshkevari, researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. Their findings were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Not-just-for-pain-%2C-acupuncture-is-a-natural-way-to/40b3af00540b363afc3e27bd719c36ae9bbbbe94
You can find a qualified acupuncturist at the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/
Floatation Therapies - Sensory Deprivation Tank Therapy
Always advise your GP and,or therapist, if you are considering floatation therapy and are receiving treatment for anything, or are on any medications or have been diagnosed with a chronic condition.
Sensory (floatation) deprivation tank - water disinfection
In addition to the salt which provides natural sanitation, reverse osmosis water is continuously circulated through a powerful disinfection system, which uses ultraviolet (UV) lights, and Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). The UV and H202 trigger the oxidative process which destroys microorganisms.
Psychological benefits of a sensory deprivation tanks
Scientific studies have shown some benefits include deep muscle relaxation, improved sleep, decrease in pain, stress, and anxiety levels.
'Irrespective of diagnosis, Floatation-REST substantially reduced state anxiety (estimated Cohen’s d > 2). Moreover, participants reported significant reductions in stress, muscle tension, pain, depression, and negative affect, accompanied by a significant improvement in mood characterized by increases in serenity, relaxation, happiness, and overall well-being (p < .0001 for all variables).' Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03051074 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796691/
Prior to Floatation Therapy
• Refrain from drinking alcohol or using any alternative substances (including herbal medications) for a minimum of 24 hours • Reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption for a minimum of 24 hours and do not consume caffeine for a minimum of 4 hours before your session • Do not wax or shave or use any body oils or lotions, for a minimum of 48 hours before using a sensory deprivation tank • Rearrange if you are menstruating
What happens during a session in a sensory (floatation) deprivation tank?
The center you attend should have provided you with information regarding their process for using a sensory deprivation tank.
Below is a guideline of how a session may proceed: • You will undress and put your clothing and jewellery in a locker • You will have a shower before entering the room where the tank is located • Once you are in the tank you will be able to close the lid yourself when you are ready • The water is heated to skin temperature and saturated with Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and when you lie back you will feel your body floating, • Some centers may play music at the beginning of a session at the end of the session for around 5 to 10 minutes • After the session, you will be able to have another shower before getting dressed
Research has shown that combining talking therapies with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, and floatation therapies can bring about increased benefits than just participating in one form of therapy.
Further resources to reduce stress and anxiety
NHS - Every Mind Matters https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/