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Calming Anxious Energy

Self-regulation is a powerful self-help tool that is often overlooked. Emily Phillips, TRC Edinburgh, shares these brilliant practical tips on calming anxious energy and soothing the nervous system.

Martha Graham

Choreographer and dancer Martha Graham shares :

“The body says what words cannot.”

This time of lockdown has been a chance to go inwards and take stock of how we are living, who we are choosing to connect with and our why.

It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way of doing things, especially when it comes to self-care and self-regulation during a time of collective evolution, but it is important to take the time to prioritise looking after our bodies, mental health and emotions.

Our bodies are the GPS

Sometimes, when a monumental event happens, it can be hard to find the words to describe what’s going on, and that’s okay. If you do find yourself lost for words or grief stricken, or content or numb, allow yourself to feel it all as it helps to bring a sense of wholeness back to the body rather than suppressing certain emotions and welcoming others.

Returning to the foundations of breathing, moving the body and allowing sound to pass through the voice in a non verbal way is a form of healing for the nervous system. It soothes mental chatter and persistent anxious thoughts on a subconscious level that may not be able to speak in words or sentences – think of it as nourishment for the Neanderthal part of our primal body & senses.

Here are two simple breath & voice exercises to calm the nervous system and help settle anxious energy or feelings :

  1. Box breath – this technique is used with navy seals and people in stressful settings. Find a comfortable position to sit or stand and allow your body to rest as you welcome your natural breath. Inhale for four counts, pause for four counts, exhale for four counts and pause for four counts – your breath will paint a square shape of equal sides. Repeat this as many times as you want until you feel the body reset and a deeper sense of calm.
  2. Hum. Choose three spaces in the body, for example – your feet, your lower back and your head. Breathe in and then exhale the humming sound into an area of the body, allow it to vibrate and change. Start by humming x10 repetitions for each space and move on. If you feel like you want to tone more into one space, listen to your body and follow the impulse.

Choose a pleasurable activity to do afterwards, let yourself journal, call a trusted friend, make a cup of tea and allow some time for integration.


Emily Philips

Voice & Movement Therapist PgDip Music Dip Physical Theatre BA (Hons)


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