Havening is a technique that’s used to treat trauma and compulsions. It can also be used to treat everyday anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling we’re all acquainted with, either intimately or peripherally. The word encompasses a variety of emotions, ranging from nervousness and panic, to irritability. While there are plenty of effective ways to treat low levels of anxiety, such as working out or meditating, havening is a new thing that’s been popping up more and more.
When people experience anxiety, their bodies get locked in a fight or flight response, triggering their adrenaline, heart rate, and more, where there’s no immediate threat. It’s a very confusing and annoying feeling that can alter your eating and sleeping patterns and also disrupt your relationships and your life.
Havening is a tool used by therapists and psychologists in order to cope with trauma. Developed by Dr. Ronald Ruden, the practice consists of touching and massaging your arms, hands or face as you chant a relaxing mantra, tricking your body into a relaxed state.
“First is activation of the emotional content of the traumatic event by imaginal recall … A gentle and soothing touch is then applied to the upper arms, palms, and around the eyes,” explains Havening Techniques. “It produces an extrasensory response of safety that arises from the evolutionary equivalent of what a mother’s touch does at the time of birth. It is innately wired.”
Photo by Raj Eiamworakul via UnsplashWhile it sounds strange, like something that you likely won’t feel comfortable doing while walking down the street, sessions conducted by psychologists and therapists have found lots of success within short periods of time.
While now’s not the most comfortable time to go to your therapist and ask for someone to give you a soothing massage, havening can be done simply by rubbing your arms and repeating soothing words to yourself. If you have a kid who is also experiencing anxiety due to quarantine or social distancing, it can help them feel safe and cared for.
Havening is not much different than Progressive Muscle Relaxation and other relaxing practices that keep your anxiety at bay and remind you to stay in the present.