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Anxiety- an in depth look

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

We have previously talked about stress and there is no doubt everyone suffers from stress at some point in their daily life. However, the incidence of anxiety is spiralling around the globe. Despite this many people still feel too ashamed to admit they suffer with anxiety issues. For this newsletter I wanted to take a much deeper look into anxiety and finally discuss the reflex points/areas that can be worked to help manage the effects it can have on your body.

As always if you would like to give reflexology a try just get in touch and come and see if it helps.

Helen x

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can be defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”. When anxiety affects your ability to carry out daily activities you may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions.


Causes of anxiety

The exact cause of anxiety is not known but it is thought that many factors are involved and can contribute to it. Certain problems or experiences can increase the chances of you suffering with anxiety. Some of these are listed below:-

1. Past or childhood experiences – suffering stress or trauma when you are young can trigger anxiety. These experiences can include losing a parent, being bullied, neglect and physical or emotional abuse. Parents that are emotionally inconsistent can also be a factor involved with anxiety.

2. Current life situation – issues or problems in your current life can also cause anxiety. These issues can include financial worries, grief, housing issues, having no job, feeling isolated or lonely, exhaustion and long working hours and being abused.

3. Physical or mental health problems – physical health problems such as living with a long-term, serious or life threatening physical condition can trigger anxiety. Mental health problems such as depression or living with someone who has a mental health problem may cause anxiety

4. Drugs and medications – recreational drug and alcohol misuse can trigger anxiety. Certain prescribed medications may also have side effects that may trigger anxiety or mental health issues.

5. Diet – some drinks and foods can trigger anxiety or may make symptoms worse. These can include sugar and caffeine.

Symptoms of anxiety

A person suffering with anxiety can experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed.

Some of the physical symptoms are listed below;

• Increased heart rate

• Wobbly legs or tingling in the legs

• Hyperventilating or dizziness

• Difficulty breathing or a tight ban across the chest

• Needing the toilet more frequently

• Feeling sick

• Tension headaches

• Hot flushes or sweating

• Dry mouth

• Shaking or palpitations

• Choking sensation

Psychological symptoms can make you feel like:-

• you may die, go mad or lose control

• you may have a heart attack, be sick, faint have a brain tumour

• people are staring at you and noticing the anxiety

• things speed up or slow down

• you have become detached from your current environment and the people in it

• you want to run away or escape the situation

• you are on edge and alert with everything around you

The most common behavioural symptom of anxiety is trying to avoid the situation that makes you feel most anxious. This is generally a short term solution and avoiding it can just reinforce the feelings of danger and fear associated with it.

Types of anxiety

Here are some of the more commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders.

1. Generalised anxiety disorder – suffering from regular or uncontrolled anxieties about everyday life

2. Social anxiety disorder –experiencing extreme fear which is triggered by social situations such as parties, gatherings, workplaces

3. Panic disorder – having regular/frequent panic attacks with no known cause. Being constantly afraid of having another panic attack.

4. Phobias – an extreme fear triggered by a situation or object e.g. confined spaces, snakes

5. Post-traumatic stress disorder –anxiety develops after going through a traumatic experience. It can cause flash backs and nightmares causing the sufferer to re-live the trauma

6. Obsessive-compulsive disorder –anxiety causing repetitive urges, thoughts or behaviours

7. Health anxiety –obsessively researching diseases and conditions to see if you have them. Having anxiety of having an illness, related to obsessive compulsive disorder

8. Body dysmorphic disorder – experience obsessions and compulsions relating to your physical appearance

9. Perinatal anxiety or perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder – women suffering with anxiety when they are pregnant or within the first year after the child is born

Remember never feel ashamed of how you feel, your feelings are real and valid!

Reflexology for anxiety

Direct Reflex Points:

  1. Solar Plexus - to calm and balance the nervous system, promote relaxation and the functioning of the autonomic nervous system.

  2. Diaphragm - to encourage deep breathing and for stress and stress related conditions.

Associated Reflex Points:

  • Heart - to help regulate blood pressure and for relaxation

  • Brain - to encourage the optimal functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system and for stress and coping with the effects of stress.

  • Adrenals - regulation of blood pressure and to help the body cope with long term stress.

  • Spinal cord - working this reflex will innervate all the spinal nerves which connect the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system.

  • Cranial nerves - to help manage stress and any occasional depression.

  • Spine - to promote spinal integrity, release tension and promote relaxation.

  • All endocrine glands - to rebalance the functioning of the body and to nullify the effects of stress and poor sleep.

  • Entire musculo-skeletal system - to combat any unbalanced lifestyle habits and promote posture, thereby increasing the body’s ability to deal with stress.

Linking Reflex Points

  • Pituitary with adrenals glands - to reduce the effects of stress

  • Solar plexus with hypothalamus - to aid emotional rebalancing

  • Vagus nerve with hypothalamus - to stimulate parasympathetic nervous system

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