Best Somatic Therapy Exercises (9+ Effective Activities)
This detailed blogpost will be discussing in depth a number of somatic therapy exercises. We will also be showing you the main concepts of somatic therapy exercises which make these techniques very effective for de-stressing and relieving anxiety.
Somatic Therapy Exercises
The best Somatic Therapy Exercises that you can try if you are feeling stressed or anxious are,
- Focusing on your breathing
- Trying new stimuli
- Tensing and relaxing alternatively
- Happy body movements
- Practicing visualization
- Taking a trip down memory lane
- Hugging yourself
- Practicing body scanning
- Hakomi Method
- Forming new neurological connections
- Pendulation method
Focusing on your breathing
One of the best and easiest techniques or exercises which you can use as a part of somatic therapy is focusing on your breathing. When you change your focus from the problem or stress factor to your breathing, it not only distracts you but also gives you more control.
Some people tend to practice different breathing exercises like deep breathing or belly-breathing, but if you don’t want to do this, you can still simply just focus on your breathing pattern, on your inhalations and exhalations.
Trying new stimuli
Another somatic therapy exercise which you can try is to simply try new stimuli for your body. The new stimulus has to be simple and calming at the same time, such as simply running your hands under a tap or taking off your shoes and walking on grass.
Tensing and relaxing alternatively
A commonly used somatic therapy exercise or technique is to simply tense and relax your muscles alternatively. When you tense and relax your muscles in a rhythm, it creates a sort of a pendulous effect which can bring more rhythm and calm to your mental activities.
Happy body movements
You can also try happy body movements as a part of somatic therapy. Body movements like dancing, walking to music and even twirling yourself to a certain tune can be a part of somatic therapy and can help you in calming down and de-stressing.
Visualization is another very common exercise which can be used for a number of reasons. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, you can try practicing visualization using a relaxing scenario or situation.
If you are feeling lost about how to practice visualization, you can try using guided scripts and videos which are available online. Using visualization, you can create a safe space for yourself in your mind along with comforting and calming sensations.
Taking a trip down memory lane
Memories from the past can also help in calming you down, especially when you think about someone special in your life. In case you are finding yourself very stressed, you can think about important people in your life and even go through their photos and videos.
Apart from important people, you can also try thinking about important and special events. For instance, you can think about your first concert or even the first time you traveled outside the country.
Hugs are indeed very therapeutic. And if you cannot hug someone else, you can even try hugging yourself. When you hug yourself, your body automatically releases happy hormones and neurochemicals which can induce a calming effect.
You can mimic the feeling of a hug by snuggling inside a fuzzy blanket, or even by cuddling with a pet or even by taking a warm bath. Some foods like hot chocolate or warm apple pie can also help in enhancing the effect of a hug.
Practicing body scanning
Body scanning techniques can be superb for physical relaxation and are an important part of somatic therapy exercises. In body scanning exercises, you simply need to mentally go over different parts of your body and actively relax them.
You can also try alternatingly tensing and relaxing your muscle groups and limbs to bring up a rhythmic or pendulous effect. Body scanning helps in calming your body which in turn can calm your mind and relax your nerves.
The Hakomi Method is a somatic therapy technique which mainly takes the help of mindfulness. Mindfulness means becoming aware of the present and understanding the ‘now’ instead of worrying about the future or feeling guilty about the past.
This method is often taught or instructed by a somatic therapist who guides the person in certain movements or motions. They also give the person cues through certain mannerisms to break negative patterns.
Forming new neurological connections
Forming new neurological connections can also help somatic therapy. This is also instructed through a somatic therapist but can be practiced at home too. This mainly means performing certain actions to form positive associations and break negative ones.
These motions or movements include eye movements or even following someone’s finger while thinking about past trauma and emotional experiences. Practicing this often can create new neurological connections and new memories.
The Pendulation method is another type of somatic technique or exercise which is often instructed by a somatic therapist. In Pendulation, the person is instructed or guided to alternate between anxious moments and calm moments so as to create a positive rhythm.
This can cause the person to experience trauma and then calm states in a solid rhythm which can make someone comfortable with their pain from the past and build resistance for trauma in the future.
Concepts of somatic therapy exercises
There are many criticisms of somatic therapy with many people saying that these exercises do not work. However, many have felt that somatic therapy has indeed helped them. Some of the concepts of somatic therapy that make it very useful are discussed as follows,
Breathing for better balance
Breathing techniques may seem pretty common but are known to work. Deep breathing can bring a better balance between O2 and CO2 levels in the blood which stimulate the parasympathetic system which is responsible for bringing a state of calm.
Another concept of somatic therapy which is known to work is by creating resources. Resources include creating a set of coping strategies and skills that a person can use when they are highly stressed or anxious.
These resources can also include ‘happy memories’ and ‘happy places’ which a person can go to whenever they want to. In this set, the person can also include instant coping tools like breathing exercises or affirmations.
Rhythm and alternation
Somatic therapy exercises use plenty of rhythm and alternations between sensations and thoughts in order to build more resistance and improve a person’s level of coping. Therefore, titrations and pendulations are important skills that somatic therapists teach their clients.
Somatic therapy also uses grounding exercises to bring a person’s anxiety levels down. Grounding can include activities like washing your face with cold water, or simply walking on bare carpet or even changing your body’s position.
The grounding exercises which the person chooses can be random or can be extensions of those which they have used well in the past. When a person uses a grounding exercise, they immediately change their mindset and thinking process.
Another important skill which is taught by somatic therapists is how to create boundaries. These boundaries don’t refer to those which separate people from one another. The boundaries in somatic therapy refer to setting boundaries between a person’s feelings.
Through boundaries, a person will become more aware of the thoughts and feelings which further traumatize them and those which help them. In somatic therapy, a person is guided to set up boundaries and also cross them when the time is right.
This detailed blogpost has discussed in depth a number of somatic therapy exercises. We have also shown you the main concepts of somatic therapy exercises which make these techniques very effective for de-stressing and relieving anxiety.
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