Does that stomach ache, headache or rapid beating heart have a somatic or cognitive cause? If it is somatic, meaning “of the body”, it means that the anxiety is caused by a dysfunction of the body. If it is cognitive, it can mean that the anxiety is caused by your mind. Often however, this is a case of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” with the physical symptoms feeding the cognitive ones and then looping back and forth.

Somatic Anxiety Symptoms Versus Cognitive Symptoms

Somatic anxiety can be caused by any unwelcome physical change but it can also be marked by:

• Stomach ache
• Headache
• Muscle tension
• Muscle aches
• Increased heart rate
• Rapid breathing/Hyperventilation
• Sweating
• Shaking
• Nausea

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and the reality is that in some cases the anxiety can cause symptoms that are incredibly unusual, such as nerve symptoms, trouble swallowing, and feelings of lumps, unusual pains, and more.

By contrast, cognitive anxiety symptoms include:

• Unease
• Repetitive negative thoughts
• Difficulty concentrating
• Confusion
• Depersonalization
• Fear

Fortunately both types of symptoms can be greatly alleviated by living a healthier lifestyle that focuses on self-care of the physical body.
Massage Massages decrease somatic anxiety by relaxing muscles and relieving built up tension that can cause muscle aches. It also prevents cognitive anxiety symptoms from interacting with somatic anxiety symptoms. This helps to prevent panic attacks.

Exercise Exercise decreases anxiety that changes the chemical composition of your body by causing your brain to release more of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is a feel-good chemical that escalates when you work out and helps you feel cheerful and relaxed.

A Healthy Diet Eating a healthy diet keeps somatic away by helping you to maintain your ideal body weight and strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. This means that your body doesn’t have to work as hard when your blood pressure rises or your breathing rate increases which in turn produces less physical or mental distress.

Gentle Yoga Yoga is an effective type of exercise for sufferers of primarily somatic anxiety as the stretching and flexing keeps muscles loose and limber and your heart rate low.

Meditation You might think that meditation would only be good as a treatment for the cognitive symptoms of anxiety, but it is also beneficial in addressing somatic symptoms. This is because  meditation is largely focused on bodily discipline: teaching your body to do what you ask of it and learning to let go of any discomfort you might feel. Zen meditation also trains you to breathe steadily and evenly, which can help you to overcome the somatic anxiety symptom of rapid breathing or hyperventilation.

Healthy Sleeping Habits Healthy sleeping habits address somatic anxiety by giving your body time to fully relax, recharge, and replace old and tired cells with healthy new ones. To improve your sleeping habits, try going to bed at a regular time every day, turn off the television and create a comforting bedtime ritual such as drinking a caffeine-free chamomile tea or listening to soothing nature sounds. Turn off all lights to make sure that you get the deepest sleep possible.
These are only the first steps in reducing anxiety, but if you can decrease your physical symptoms a small amount you may find that your overall anxiety levels become easier to control.

To get to the root of what physical cause might be triggering your anxiety, contact us here at the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre where we focus on integrated natural health treatments to help you. For more information about nutrition, Toronto weight loss or to book a consultation about anti-aging, naturopathic testing, weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at http://www.pinewoodhealth.caor call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.

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