Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that can seriously restrict life and make simple things like leaving the house or getting to work or school difficult. Having anxiety may mean that you feel angry and lash out at others, or that you feel scared or ashamed and withdraw from any social contact or support or that you turn to drugs or alcohol to try to relax and calm down. You may often feel overwhelmed and misunderstood.
There are different types of anxiety, however, some general signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling anxious or concerned most of the time
- Catastrophizing- always fearing the worst will happen
- Feeling overwhelmed by sudden feelings of panic and anxiety
- Obsessive thinking- having recurring thoughts that make it difficult to calm down
- Avoiding situations, people or places that cause anxiety
- Physical symptoms like a racing heart, panic attacks, tightness in the chest, fast breathing, restlessness, feeling tense and wound up. (www.beyondblue.org.au)
Equine Assisted Therapy provides an opportunity for you to talk to a mental health professional (this is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety) and be outside in nature with horses.
You have an opportunity to talk about your experience and feel supported in a non-judgemental way, the mental health professional will also provide you with different tools to help deal with your anxiety.
One of these tools may be to learn how to breath deep, become present and relax your energy, this is really important for your anxiety and also for your connection and safety around the horses.
Horses are naturally present to their environment. They are aware of who is around them and how that person is feeling and they will respond to situations and people straight away. So if you are uptight and anxious the horse will respond to that- generally by moving away from you. They aren’t rejecting you, they are just moving to a place where they feel safe and comfortable- this is a horse’s first priority.
You then have the opportunity to work on ways to reduce your anxiety and build a connection with the horse. Relating with the horses and practicing reducing your anxiety around the horses helps make the techniques more effective in your everyday life. Horses are non-judgemental and curious and they provide a sense of being heard and understood. Equine Therapy is beneficial for children, teens and adults.