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Dr Anna M L Smith

Tel: 077175 70805


03 October 2023
Woman looking through a window in the rain

Anxiety is a mental health condition that involves both psychological and physiological parts, making it essential to adopt a holistic, mind-body approach for understanding and managing it.

Psychologically, anxiety is characterized by excessive worry or fear about future events or situations. It often involves catastrophic thinking, where you anticipate the worst possible outcomes. This psychological aspect can be influenced by your past experiences, genetic predisposition, current life stressors and lifestyle factors such as what you eat.

Physiologically, anxiety triggers a range of bodily responses known as the "fight-or-flight" reaction. When faced with a perceived threat, the body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones lead to increased heart rate, muscle tension, shallow breathing, and heightened alertness and can trigger bowel or bladder symptoms.

The mind-body approach to anxiety recognizes the connection between mental and physical well-being. Here are key elements of this approach:

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques helps individuals become more aware of their thoughts and physical sensations. This awareness can help them manage anxiety by learning to observe their thoughts without judgment and to calm the body's stress response.
  2. Relaxation Techniques: Progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and guided imagery can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, promoting relaxation and stress relief.
  3. Exercise: Physical activity has a profound impact on both the mind and body. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and helps reduce muscle tension associated with anxiety.
  4. Nutrition: A healthy balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre can support overall well-being and mental health by reducing neuroinflammation
  5. Sleep: Adequate and quality sleep is crucial for managing anxiety. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, so adopting good sleep hygiene practices is essential.
  6. Social Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional validation and a sense of belonging, which can alleviate feelings of isolation and anxiety.
  7. Professional Help: A holistic approach to anxiety may involve therapy, such as a mind-body therapist.

In summary, anxiety needs a holistic approach and seeing a mind-body practitioner may be a good place to start.

By: Dr Anna Smith