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How Body-Based Therapies Alleviate Stress and Anxiety




Alexpunker / iStockphoto

Source: Alexpunker / iStockphoto

When you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, you generally think of the thoughts and feelings associated with these phenomena as “mental.” That’s why we talk about “mental” health and that’s why we focus on the brain when we think about eliminating these uncomfortable states of existence. Countless studies have shown that thoughts (1,2) and feelings are actually reflected in the brain (3,4), so it’s no wonder that most treatments are designed to change the brain.

Your body is involved in your feelings

while the brain he is A major participant in the sensations associated with stress, anxiety, and fatigue, the rest of the body carries information that can affect the way we think and feel as well. In this sense, you not only have a brain that “thinks” and “feels”; You actually have a body that “thinks” and “feels” as well (5,6). That’s why some studies have suggested that while treatments like CBT are helpful in recognizing that your thinking has been distorted, adding an embodiment component to CBT can make a big difference (7).

How does the body participate?

When you’re stressed, you might think of this as “anxiety,” “panic,” or “mental fatigue,” but in fact, there is evidence that stress isn’t purely mental at all. Many other physical changes may also be observed, ranging from changes in posture (eg, stooping), facial expressions (eg, startled eyes), gestures (eg, weak handshake), and movements (eg, falling). in bed) (7). Furthermore, when you’re recalling feelings, you’re not just remembering the stressful time abstraction, your memories may include physical actions like crying on someone’s shoulder or leaning over at the foot of your bed.

Body based treatments

Treatments such as CBT and traditional psychotherapy are called “top-down” therapies. They focus on thoughts, emotions, and abstract ideas generally associated with language and the brain.

However, the body has its own language: you feel different in a hot bath or in a tub of freezing cold water. The body also feels the difference in open space versus closed spaces. The body can feel completely different when immersed in the memory of pain versus being in the “here and now”.

Embodied therapies, also called “bottom-up” therapies, benefit from changing the body’s relationship to space, and in doing so, changing how we feel. Extended postures, gaze direction, movement direction, and respiratory patterns are all part of the embodied therapies (11, 12).


Video, Virtual Reality, Embedded and Embedded Therapy

When you watch a video or immerse yourself in virtual reality, you take in the environment in front of you. In the case of virtual reality, you feel as if your entire body is immersed in this scene. Depending on the environment your body is immersed in, your thinking will change accordingly (13).

Embedded cognition means that our environments influence thinking (and feeling). Being in certain environments can ease the burden of thinking, for example (14). Using calming stimulants causes the entire body to relax, not just your mind. This is why videos can affect the way we feel.

On the other hand, “embodied perception” is a similar type of body involvement, but here, the sounds you hear and the feeling of being in a particular place can ease the burden of thinking and feeling anxious, for example.

Many experts vigorously argue that it is misleading to consider the brain the physical basis or “basic mechanism” of moods, and that neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, along with the neurons that interact with them, do not constitute the physical basis or “basic mechanism” of mood (15). ). For example, chemicals in the brain are affected by blood glucose, hormones outside the brain, the immune system, and the intestines. Soothing immersion in stress-reducing environments such as nature may trigger physiological changes (16), such as changes in glucose (17), cortisol (18), the immune system (19), and the gut (20). Also, the entire body is represented and connected to the brain, so changes in the body are closely related to changes in the brain.

Virtual reality offers an immersion experience. By doing so, it provides the experience of altering multiple physiological and organ systems to help relieve stress and anxiety.


The specific and special effect of video and virtual reality is that they provide the opportunity to “absorb” and “whole body” interventions that affect multiple physiological systems, helping us to process stress and anxiety in completely different ways.


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