Somatic Exercises: Key to Releasing Fear and Anxiety — NEUROFIT (2024)

Fear and anxiety play a significant role in nervous system regulation, signaling our body’s fight, flight, or freeze response. When not handled correctly, they can have major implications for our health, daily life, and overall well-being.

Understanding the Nervous System’s Fear Response

Fear is an evolutionary response that triggers the sympathetic nervous system to prepare to fight or flee from danger. When the nervous system senses a real or perceived threat to its safety, our body primes for action. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released leading to an increase in muscle tension, blood pressure and heart rate, and the body is filled with mobilizing energy.

While this is an incredibly helpful survival mechanism, it’s important to note that the body cannot handle this heightened state of alert for too long. Eventually, the nervous system becomes overwhelmed with stress, causing the body to shut down from exhaustion. Fear is not meant to run our lives and we must make a conscious effort to release the energy behind fear and anxiety so to give our body the rest and recovery it requires.

How Anxiety Fuels Fear

While fear is a reaction to a specific threat, anxiety is more about the anticipation of a possible threat. This anticipation is what keeps our nervous system in a heightened state of alert, making us more susceptible to fear responses.

Consequences of Prolonged Fear and Anxiety

As mentioned, the nervous system cannot handle chronic fear and anxiety without leading to eventual burnout. Fear and anxiety can alter our physiology, disrupting the natural processes that keep our body running efficiently.

Chronic stress and anxiety has been linked to cardiovascular issues, persistent muscle tension and pain, digestive problems, and sleep issues. The body’s endocrine system can become compromised due to the overproduction of hormones leading to an imbalance and excessive mood swings and even reproductive issues. Oftentimes, we convince ourselves that we are able to handle excess stress, but over time these symptoms will begin to make an appearance and affect our daily health.

Fear and Anxiety in Everyday Life

Aside from the physical consequences of prolonged fear and anxiety on our health, these emotions can have major implications for our day-to-day life. Fear and anxiety keeps us constantly on edge, creating unpredictable mood swings, trust issues, and major insecurity.

Our personal relationships are affected as fear of connection, trust, or commitment from others get in the way. Fear and anxiety bring conflict and miscommunication, heightened emotions and overall disconnection.

Fear and anxiety also crowds the mind, causing an inability to focus or concentrate fully on our work or studies. We may have anxiety and fear around failure and feelings of inadequacy that lead to a downward spiral of procrastination and poor performance.

Chronic anxiety creates a deep-rooted fear within our mind and body that can drastically alter our sense of self-worth and trust in ourselves. Fear and insecurity within yourself leads to fear and insecurity in your life. Your internal environment creates your outward environment.

Nervous system regulation and tools such as somatic exercises for fear and anxiety are what allow us to shift that internal environment to one that truly benefits our overall well-being.

oVERCOME Fear and Anxiety through Nervous System Regulation

Nervous system regulation allows us to shift flexibly between nervous system states. Through this practice, we are able to take back control of our emotional state and therefore, control over our fear and anxiety.

You can think of nervous system regulation as training the body to shift from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system response to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. This allows us to reduce the physiological symptoms of stress, fear, and anxiety and create a sense of peace and calm in our mind and body.

How Somatic Exercises Can Release Fear and Anxiety

Somatic exercises are a powerful tool in releasing fear and anxiety. These targeted exercises enhance focus on bodily sensations and use physical movement to ease tension and stress in the body. By shifting focus from the mind and into the body, somatic exercises help the nervous system anchor into feelings of safety and security.

Breathwork, for example, is a form of somatic exercise that directly stimulates the vagus nerve, signaling the parasympathetic nervous system’s relaxation response. Through somatic exercises, we can quickly reduce stress by signaling to the nervous system that it is safe to slow down and relax. See below for a few exercises that we recommend from the NEUROFIT App.

3 Somatic Exercises for Releasing Fear and Anxiety

1. Body Shaking – Body shaking helps reduce stress by releasing pent-up energy and tension. It's a natural response to stress that helps regulate your nervous system and bring your body back to equilibrium.

How to do it: Shake your body at a pace fast enough to release excess pent-up energy, noticing as the tension releases. Start with the arms, then move to the torso and legs.

3. Eye Press Breathing – This breathing exercise communicates to the nervous system that it is safe to slow down through closed eyes, awareness of the lower belly and slower breath through the nose.

How to do it: Lay down if possible, press your wrists lightly against your closed eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths through your nose.

For even more somatic exercise recommendations — backed by data from tens of thousands user sessions — download the NEUROFIT App.

Confronting Fear and Anxiety Somatically

A somatic approach to processing fear and anxiety gives way for a deeper understanding of yourself, the ways you respond to stress, and allows you to sense more clearly where these emotions are coming from.

Somatic means “of the body” and as you begin to work with the body and the state of your nervous system, you are addressing stress, anxiety, and fear at the root. When we try to tackle fear from a place of the mind, it simply won’t work. The physiology of fear is too strong and we can’t see clearly when our nervous system is not in a balanced state.

The NEUROFIT App is designed to give you all the tools you need to process fear and anxiety effectively. The app uses the science of afferent nerves (meaning the 80% of nerves that run from the body up to the brain) and guides you through an embodied approach to processing stored emotions and stress in the body.

Inside the NEUROFIT App you’ll find somatic tools such as in-app HRV readings and tracking your daily Balance Score™. Utilize our AI-Powered wellness coach, CLEAR to pinpoint how fear and anxiety is affecting your daily life on top of personalized somatic exercise recommendations to clear stress in just minutes!

Conclusion

Consciously choosing to balance your nervous system and utilize somatic exercises for fear and anxiety gives you back control over heightened emotions and stress. A deeper understanding of where your fear and anxiety stems from allows for a more direct approach to overcoming it.

Begin your 6-week nervous system reset with the by downloading the NEUROFIT APP.

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Fear and anxiety are powerful emotions that play a significant role in regulating the nervous system. When not managed properly, they can have major implications for our health, daily life, and overall well-being. In this article, we will explore the concepts related to fear and anxiety, the consequences of prolonged fear and anxiety, and how somatic exercises can help release fear and anxiety.

Understanding the Nervous System's Fear Response

Fear is an evolutionary response that triggers the sympathetic nervous system to prepare for fight or flight in the face of danger. When the nervous system senses a real or perceived threat, the body primes for action by releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This leads to an increase in muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate, and mobilizing energy.

How Anxiety Fuels Fear

While fear is a reaction to a specific threat, anxiety is more about the anticipation of a possible threat. Anxiety keeps our nervous system in a heightened state of alert, making us more susceptible to fear responses.

Consequences of Prolonged Fear and Anxiety

Chronic fear and anxiety can have detrimental effects on our physiology. They can disrupt the natural processes that keep our body running efficiently and lead to cardiovascular issues, persistent muscle tension and pain, digestive problems, sleep issues, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, reproductive issues, and more.

Fear and Anxiety in Everyday Life

In addition to the physical consequences, fear and anxiety can have major implications for our day-to-day life. They can create unpredictable mood swings, trust issues, major insecurity, fear of connection, trust, or commitment in personal relationships, conflict, miscommunication, heightened emotions, disconnection, and an inability to focus or concentrate fully on work or studies.

Nervous System Regulation and Somatic Exercises

Nervous system regulation is the practice of shifting between different nervous system states. By training the body to shift from the sympathetic (fight or flight) response to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response, we can reduce the physiological symptoms of stress, fear, and anxiety. This allows us to create a sense of peace and calm in our mind and body.

Somatic exercises are a powerful tool in releasing fear and anxiety. These exercises focus on bodily sensations and use physical movement to ease tension and stress in the body. By shifting our focus from the mind to the body, somatic exercises help the nervous system anchor into feelings of safety and security. Breathwork, for example, directly stimulates the vagus nerve, signaling the parasympathetic nervous system's relaxation response.

Somatic Exercises for Releasing Fear and Anxiety

Here are three somatic exercises that can help release fear and anxiety:

  1. Body Shaking: Body shaking helps reduce stress by releasing pent-up energy and tension. Start by shaking your arms, then move to the torso and legs, shaking at a pace fast enough to release excess pent-up energy.

  2. Eye Press Breathing: Lay down if possible, press your wrists lightly against your closed eyes, and focus on taking slow, deep breaths through your nose. This breathing exercise communicates to the nervous system that it is safe to slow down.

For more somatic exercise recommendations, you can download the NEUROFIT App, which provides personalized somatic exercise recommendations and tools for nervous system regulation.

Confronting Fear and Anxiety Somatically

A somatic approach to processing fear and anxiety allows for a deeper understanding of oneself and the ways we respond to stress. By working with the body and the state of the nervous system, we can address stress, anxiety, and fear at their root. This approach is more effective than trying to tackle fear from a purely mental standpoint. The NEUROFIT App is designed to provide tools for processing fear and anxiety effectively, using an embodied approach to address stored emotions and stress in the body.

Conclusion

Consciously choosing to balance the nervous system and utilize somatic exercises for fear and anxiety gives us back control over heightened emotions and stress. By understanding where fear and anxiety stem from and addressing them at their root, we can overcome them more effectively. The NEUROFIT App provides the tools and resources needed to support a 6-week nervous system reset, including somatic exercises and personalized recommendations for stress relief.

Remember, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or therapist for personalized guidance and support in managing fear and anxiety.

Somatic Exercises: Key to Releasing Fear and Anxiety — NEUROFIT (2024)

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