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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Anxiety

In Elemental. More on Medium.

New research shows the ‘tapping’ technique reduces anxiety, depression, and PTSD

Photo: Luis Quintero/Unsplash

For years people thought the practice of “tapping,” aka Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), was, well, crazy, to put it kindly. But after 100+ clinical trials have shown its efficacy, even the hard-won U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) got hip to the idea.

EFT/Tapping is a brief intervention that combines elements of somatic stimulation, exposure, and cognitive therapy — and you use your own fingertips to do it. In short, it involves quick, repeated light-touch on specific acupressure points — or energy “hot spots” — to restore balance to the body’s system. …


Why does tea calm our nerves?

Photo: Loverna Journey/Unsplash

You’ve had a terrible day. The car wouldn’t start and you walked to the bus stop in pouring rain; you spilled coffee on your trousers; your boss was a pain; your deadline is late. You’ve finally dragged yourself home, damp and deflated, and all you want is a cup of tea to calm your nerves and soothe the day away. It works! But — why does it?

We have been using tea of one kind or another for thousands of years, but green (and black) tea originate in China. Tea has been found in tombs dating as far back as…


A therapist explains how to distinguish between the two

Person in a dark background with a cobalt blue light on their face, looking despondently at the camera.
Person in a dark background with a cobalt blue light on their face, looking despondently at the camera.
Image: Kyle Cleveland/Unsplash

I was eight years old when the wrecking ball of doom came a-swinging. One minute I was riding my Huffy Sweet Thunder down the road, speed lifting my pigtails, adrenaline twisting the handlebars as I launched off the curb, bravado daring me to let go, as if to say, “Hell ya, I’m omnipotent.” And the next moment, invincibility took a digger. I landed with a face full of dirt and a mouthful of blood, heart on fire, trembling like a newborn in the cold, drenched as if I had just gone swimming. …


Why you might want to stop talking about your anxiety and try this instead

Photo of a woman putting her hand to her collarbone
Photo of a woman putting her hand to her collarbone
Photo: Kittiphan Teerawattanakul/EyeEm/Getty Images

Let’s back up 50,000 years or so. Imagine you’re a Neanderthal taking a leisurely stroll through the fields. Suddenly, in the nearby bushes, you hear a tiger. In a nanosecond, your entire body starts reacting. Your pulse quickens, your breathing gets shallow, your eyes dilate, your body starts producing adrenaline.

Everything happening in your body is good; you’re prepared to survive this tiger encounter. There’s just one small problem. It wasn’t a tiger. It was a tiny prehistoric weasel. …


Vaccination offers protection against the viral threat, but your brain needs time to reset after a year living with the fear

Multicolored photo of covid-19 vaccine.
Multicolored photo of covid-19 vaccine.
Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Rachel Gersten is a licensed mental health and wellness counselor and, as she says, a believer in science. All throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the co-founder of a New York–based wellness company followed official public health guidance on safe behavior and avoided illness. She’s on the other side of peak risk now because she is fully vaccinated. Even so, having reached this stage, the 34-year-old is experiencing dissonance: Gersten’s foundation in science tells her on an intellectual level that she’s largely protected from the coronavirus; emotionally, however, her brain can’t catch up.

“If you fall off a horse, you get back…


An overlooked idea from the 1980s yields a promising new treatment approach that anyone can use

Image: sommersby/Getty Images

I’m a psychiatrist who struggles with anxiety.

I had my first full-blown panic attack when I was in residency training. It woke me from a sound sleep like a freight train suddenly blowing its whistle in my ear. Heart pounding and short of breath, I felt like I was going to die.

Instead of calling 911, I went through the psychiatric diagnostic checklist in my head. Check, check, check. Yup, those were all the symptoms of a panic (rather than heart) attack, I reassured myself. …


Social distancing mimics avoidance, which ‘feeds and waters’ social anxiety

Photo: gremlin/Getty Images

Early in the pandemic, I found myself sweating as I prepared for a Zoom happy hour (remember those?) with my college roommates. I’d lived with these women. Our husbands knew each other. Yet somehow my nerves still felt jangly. Then there was a distanced-and-masked walk with a friend one afternoon: I spent the drive home worrying that a joke I’d made had come out wrong. Deep down I knew everything was fine, but I couldn’t stop replaying my words, trying to remember what my friend’s facial expression had been like afterward.

It’s clear that my social anxiety, which I was…


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Hold hands and snuggle pets

Though I’ve yet to experiment with weighted blankets, I am familiar with the sensation of being lovingly suffocated by heavy warmth. It happens when my 10-year-old drapes himself across my resting body to snuggle, talk, read, or laugh. As most parents can attest, one version of a no-longer-miniature kid climbing on you can feel squirmy and uncomfortable. But another, calmer version is incredibly delightful and how I imagine hibernating animals must feel in their messy, furry pileups.

Our cuddle usually prompts one or both of our resting heart rates to slow. My son will confess his anxieties and annoyances, and…


Plus, how to make your worries actually productive

Photo: Justin Paget/Getty Images

Worrying has become a routine part of many people’s lives these days. And while stress and anxiety are often categorized as irrational or unnecessary, it’s easy to understand why worry, in the scary universe of now, is ubiquitous.

When it comes to making decisions of any kind, there’s always some degree of uncertainty, but under normal circumstances, it’s limited. When you eat raw oysters, for example, you’ll either get food poisoning or you won’t. However, with this pandemic, there’s a great deal more uncertainty, and that creates a much more unstable scenario where you have to constantly weigh options that…


My Therapist Says

I’m learning to reject the overpowering desire to have the one answer to my anxiety.

Illustration: Kate Dehler

In early 2017, I experienced my first panic attack. I was in a work meeting with my manager when I began to feel hot and claustrophobic, sure I was going to throw up. I kept looking to the door, willing it to open and for an invisible force to propel me out of the room to safety. Eventually, I excused myself, explaining that I didn’t feel well.

On the subway ride home, as in the meeting room, I felt trapped; each time the doors slid shut, a wave of dread washed over me. After a few stops, I summoned the…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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