Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: March 2019

What's anxiety got to do with It?

My husband and I recently attended a workshop for parents of children with disruptive behaviors. (No reason.) One major topic was how to handle tantrums and meltdowns, which are the behavioral results of extreme anxiety. To demonstrate how distressed our kids can get, and how much time, distraction, and soothing it might take before they're able to calm down, the doctors leading the workshop showed us the opening scene from the movie of Stephen King's It. My head began to ache, my stomach turned, I suddenly felt warm (I had been freezing cold until then), and my arms and legs were shaky.

After the clip, we were instructed to select an item from a table of stress-relieving activities: a coloring book, a Rubix Cube, a Sudoku book, a stress ball, a fidget, etc. I chose the coloring book, but had a difficult time since my hand was still shaking. I couldn't get the horrific images I had just seen out of my head. When the presentation resumed, it helped to distract me. But it took time - a lot of time - to get my body and mind back to baseline.

What I've come to realize is that this workshop wasn't just about children. It was about everyone. Raise your hand if you have anxiety. Some anxiety is natural. It's part of being human. It's what has helped us survive generation after generation. But the way we experience anxiety today is anything but natural. We carry anxiety with us all the time, as we rush from place to place, work ridiculously long hours, skip lunch, take care of our kids, deal with family issues, stress over finances, try to answer 100 e-mails and text messages, get stuck in traffic or find out the subway isn't running, and worry about our political situation.

To make matters worse, we don't give ourselves enough recovery time before the next stressful event pops up. If a child is not given sufficient time to regulate after a fit, you can bet another tantrum is right around the corner, and it will be louder and fiercer than the one before. Adults are no different. We just have the executive function skills to control our behavior. But the anxiety is there, and it wears us down over time. It's no wonder so many of us suffer from headaches, fatigue, stomach problems, muscle aches, and depression. Instead of living in the present, our minds get stuck worrying about the past or the future. (I relive my anxiety simply by remembering the movie clip.) Our bodies don't distinguish between a real or a perceived threat. The physiological stress response is the same. (Check out my favorite book on stress, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers.)

We need to take some time to slow down, rest, and digest. We need to find at least 10 minutes each day to alleviate our anxiety, either with distraction or by self-soothing. During the workshop, coloring was not enough for me. I needed a bigger distraction to take my mind off the film clip. I wanted to chat with a friend or go for a walk with my husband. There are times, however, that self-soothing is much more effective for me - a 10 minute guided mediation, stretching, a nap, uplifting music. You can experiment and find out what works best for you, and how to adapt your self-care to meet your unique needs in any situation.

Get creative. Find activities that effectively alleviate your anxiety, and make it a point to implement them daily. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a walk
  • Guided meditation (check out apps like HeadSpace and Calm)
  • Make yourself a hot cup of tea
  • Read a good book
  • Watch your favorite movie or show
  • Listen to music you love
  • Call a friend
  • Listen to a fun audiobook or podcast
  • Take a nap
  • Self massage
  • Get a massage
  • Take a hot bath
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Exercise
  • Go to a Meetup
  • Color
  • Write in a journal
  • Do a craft
  • Get out in nature

Anxiety has serious short and long-term health consequences. But we can begin to reverse the detrimental effects of anxiety by becoming aware of it in our own bodies, and practicing a little self-care every day. I challenge you to start now. Choose something you can do just for yourself and do it every day, starting today. You might have to schedule it in your calendar as a reminder, and to make sure you carve out a little "you time." You will be surprised at the difference it makes. The benefits are cumulative, and will work wonders for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Oh, and while you're trying to release your anxiety, I highly recommend you steer clear of It!

Self massage and meditation for anxiety and stress relief

Anyone have anxiety? For most, the answer is a desperate "yes!" Taking the time to alleviate anxiety and stress will actually save you time. Not only that, decreasing stress will allow you to enjoy your life, rather than rush through it. Without the weight of anxiety on your shoulders, you'll have more energy and drive to do the things you want to do.

Follow along as I guide you through a meditation and relaxing self massage to help you gain body awareness, release anxiety, and ease the mind. Make this a regular practice. You can start small, with just 10 minutes a day of quiet time to yourself. If you stick with it, you will feel better, think more clearly, and improve your overall health and wellbeing. In addition, you may find yourself more productive, and less busy!


What's new with me ...

My YouTube channel now has over 10,000 subscribers! Check it out and get loads of self-care videos, aimed at alleviating everything from neck and back pain to anxiety and depression.

Lately, Sienna's general introduction when meeting someone new goes like this:

"Hi! My name's Sienna, that's Sienna with two n's I'm five but I'm almost six because my birthday is in March and February has only 28 days and my favorite colors are pink, blue, and purple IN THAT ORDER and my favorite animal is a flamingo because it's pink and it's pink because it eats shrimp and I can stand on one leg like a flamingo!"

Call or text me today

I'd be happy to answer
any questions you have!


Fill out my online form.

Subscribe to my Youtube channel!

American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

Available now!

Available now!

Did you know?