Anxiety and stress put your mind and body through the wringer. Originally evolved to help us respond to danger, the stress response has become a danger in itself when we constantly react to environmental factors out of our control that our bodies perceive as threats.
Gabor Mate explains that “the three factors that universally lead to stress are: uncertainty, lack of information and the loss of control”. I think most of us are feeling at least one of these factors, if not all of them. When we are under stress our body responds as if we are in danger and our sympathetic nervous system gets activated and release a flood of stress hormones. If this happens over and over without a proper outlet or release, these hormones and corresponding emotions become stored in our bodies. This leads to negative impacts on our physical and mental well-being.
When stress or anxiety lingers in your body, it blazes a path of silent devastation. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, suppress your immune system, compromising your ability to fight disease. This also increases the rate of tissue damage your body sustains, as all of your available resources are being siphoned off to support the fight-or-flight mechanism. Research suggests stress is responsible for 60 percent of all human disease, and three in four doctor visits are for stress-related problems. (1)
Other health conditions related to stress or anxiety include:
- Muscle tension
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased weight gain
- Reduced bone density
- Chronic pain
- Digestive problems
How Craniosacral Therapy Releases Stress, Anxiety, and Emotions
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a type of bodywork that can bring profound healing from stress and anxiety. CST is light touch work that stems from Osteopathic medicine. The founder of Osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Sills, was influenced by the Cherokee and Shawnee healing practices of bone-setting. (2). CST is a way of listening to the nervous system and the whole body to help release tension and holding patterns that no longer serve, unwind trauma, and come back into balance and health. With its long, still hand-holds CST identifies the innate health and supports the body and mind into deeper rest, allowing the body to return to balance and calm. The primary focus in CST is on health rather than the problem, which allows for the body’s intelligence to heal from within.
Craniosacral therapy has been shown to reduce that destructive sympathetic arousal by supporting the release of myofacial structures (3). Craniosacral therapy prevents the body from getting stuck in high-stress states and supports the release of excess sympathetic charge. CST can help unwind stored trauma patterns, which in turn can reduce stress, pain, and allow for a greater sense of ease and well-being.
Your craniosacral system is responsible for circulating the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This crucial fluid bathes your brain in nurturing glucose and helps keep your central nervous system fed, clean and stable. It also transports hormones, neurotransmitters and releasing factors that help govern your body’s reaction to its environment. Physical or emotional trauma can cause the fluid to stagnate, leading to even more emotional stuckness. Stress can reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid by as much as 30 percent. Practitioners are taught to “listen with their hands” for the subtle rhythm and apply gentle manual techniques that increase mobility and circulation within the craniosacral system.
What to expect from a Craniosacral Therapy Session
CST often creates a deep state of relaxation in which healing from stress and anxiety can occur. By reducing the body’s stress response, it also rebalances the nervous system and optimizes the production of precious cerebrospinal fluid.
“When people experience craniosacral therapy, the body relaxes, the brain activities slow down and the ego with its defense mechanisms gets out of the way,” Lynn Wonder says (4). “The stored emotions often will surface for the purpose of release and healing.”
Patients may also experience sensations such as:
- Pain relief
- Sense of peace
- Feeling of expansion in mind or body
- Sleepiness or a sleep-like state
- Involuntary twitches
- Altered state of being
- Emotional release
Are you ready for additional support for your stress and anxiety?
For additional help managing stress and anxiety in your life, visit Heart Spring Health in SE Portland for a craniosacral therapy appointment. Your visit with me will begin with a brief face-to-face conversation about what you are wanting to work on. The hands on touch work takes place on a massage table, fully clothed, while I offer light touch work primarily on your head, pelvis, and chest.
If at times strong emotions or memories surface, it means the therapy is working on a deep level. Telling me what you’re experiencing during treatment can help support the process. Our providers are trained to hold a safe space for you to explore what’s being released as you journey toward long-term healing.
Eileen Fisher, LPC is a counselor and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist dedicated to helping you access innate health and wellness. Eileen uses a client-centered approach that also combines mindfulness-based practices and Somatic Experiencing to address a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and chronic pain. Eileen received a Masters in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO and received a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Certification from the School of Inner Health in Denver. Learn more about Eileen.
- America’s #1 Health Problem – The American Institute of Stress. American Institute of Stress (2020)
- Aligning the relational field: a love story about retelling the creation of craniosacral therapy (and a lot of other touch-based bodywork as well) — Susan Raffo
- H. Haller et al.: Craniosacral therapy for chronic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Musculoskelet. Disord. 21 (2020)
- Natural Relief from Anxiety: CranioSacral Therapy – Wonders Counseling Services, LLC