I was chatting about Bowen Therapy with a guest at a Baby Shower recently and she asked me “I suffer with anxiety, am I a candidate for Bowen Therapy?” 

In short, the answer is yes!

Before I discuss how Bowen Therapy may assist with anxiety, it is important to understand what anxiety is, its causes and how it may present.


Anxiety is the MOST common mental health condition in Australia. On average 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage in their life ~ Beyond Blue

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is when anxious feelings don’t go away – they happen without a reason or cause and are ongoing.  It is more than just feeling stressed or worried. These are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, but subside once the ‘stressor’ has gone. When a person experiences anxiety, the feelings aren’t easily controlled and sometimes it can become crippling (Beyond Blue).

Symptoms of anxiety often develop slowly overtime, and are not obvious because they’re not connected to an obvious ‘stressor.’

What causes anxiety?

There is no one cause of anxiety but it may stem from

  • Stressful life events or ongoing stressful situations
    • Job or work changes
    • School stress
    • Moving house
    • Family and relationship problems
    • Shock or trauma
    • Pregnancy and childbirth
    • Physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Family history of anxiety or mental health
  • Personality traits including perfectionism and low self esteem
  • Physical health issues may be an underlying cause
    • Asthma, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are common chronic conditions linked with anxiety.
    • Thyroid disorders, such as an overactive thyroid can mimic anxiety.
  • Substance use including alcohol, sedative or other drugs. Even drinking too much coffee (or caffeine)

How anxiety may present:

  • Physically as panic attacks, racing heart, chest tightening, rapid breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy and hot and cold flushes.
  • Psychologically as excessive fear, worry or obsessive thinking
  • Behaviourally as avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious impacting on work, study or social life.

Although the presentation of anxiety is different for everyone, the one thing that is the same, is the nervous system is in overdrive, i.e. the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, and the body is in fight and flight mode.

Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy is a holistic treatment that address the whole body. It treats the cause rather than the symptoms and restores balance via the autonomic system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of bodily functions and is predisposed to external stressors.

The ANS subdivides into

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)

‘Rest and Digest’ or ‘Rest, Relax and Repair Mode’

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)

 ‘Fight and Flight or Freeze mode’

Using Bowen Therapy to assist with Anxiety

Today most of us live in a constant state of high stress which causes the SNS to be in overdrive. Bowen Therapy can shift the body from sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic dominance. Due to its gentle approach, the body has the ability to repair itself with minimal intervention.

Bowen moves are applied over points of connective tissue (such as muscles, tendon, ligaments, fascia), joints, nerves and skin. These points stimulate specific receptors to restore balance and correct dysfunctions in the body.  I often hear loud peristalsis in the gut which is mistaken for grumbling because of hunger, but rather the body has shifted in parasympathetic dominance, OR the client becomes so relaxed they often fall asleep.

There are so many wonderful Bowen Therapy moves that can be done to help you with anxiety. For example, the Bowen Relaxation Moves take the body from a state of ‘fight and flight’ into ‘rest and digest,’ or the respiratory moves which help if you’re feeling tight in the chest or suffering with anxiety, stress, grief or shock.

It is possible for anxiety to be managed using a multi-modality approach. The body and mind are connected. I have personally found having regular Bowen treatments and weekly yoga sessions to really help me.

For more information regarding anxiety, visit Beyond Blue

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Elizabeth is a Bowen Therapist, Remedial, Pre and Post Natal Massage Therapist, and Aromatherapist. Elizabeth is passionate about women's health and wellness.In addition, Elizabeth is the creator of the Nurture Mumma, Nurture Bubba Gift Packs, Baby Products and has developed a range of Aromatic Mists.