The new Elizabeth line underground route is to open on 24th May and is expected to be a busy line along popular London destinations, which is bringing with it heightened feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia.
Research from wellness brand Goodrays reveals why the London Underground has this effect on people’s mental health, as well as providing tips on dealing with the anxieties of travelling the Tube.
According to psychotherapist and founder of Ed Can Help, Edward Sim: ‘It’s not at all surprising that people find journeys on the Tube stressful. It combines all of the elements which many people find difficult: a cramped space, surrounded by strangers, invasion of personal space, often high temperatures, long dark tunnels and being ‘out of control’ in the sense that you have no influence over the driver.’
To help commuters get the help they need when travelling the London Underground, Goodrays have researched the most useful and common tips to dealing with anxiety and claustrophobia.
Breath in and out deeply, focusing on each breath and keeping shoulders relaxed
If you feel breathless due to anxiety, there are breathing techniques that you can help alleviate symptoms and feel better. Breathing techniques can be done anywhere on the underground, whether you’re sitting in a carriage, walking between platforms or waiting for the next train.
Some techniques include:
- Lengthening your exhale. Exhaling helps your parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.
- Abdomen breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm can help reduce the amount of work your body needs to do to breathe.
Focus on each breath. When deep breathing is focused and slow, it can help reduce anxiety.
Stamping on the spot whenever you’re standing and keeping your feet flat on the ground whenever you stop
Grounding exercises are about using senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch – to reconnect our mind and body in the present moment. Stamping your feet to notice the sensation and sound as you connect with the ground, this helps you feel grounded with your surroundings and calm your fight-or-flight feelings.
Whenever you have your feet firmly on the ground, make sure the soles of your feet are flat, this will help your body feel connected to the ground and help ease your anxiety.
Assessing your fears
Assess your fears so that you can understand exactly what it is you’re feeling anxious about, then you can begin to find solutions that are appropriate for your fears. Don’t begin to avoid the London Underground, because it’s much more difficult to get back into the swing of using it once you’ve removed yourself from it for a while.
Edward Sims says: ‘Avoidance fuels anxiety, it never reduces it.’
If techniques aren’t helping then seek professional advice
If you’re continuing to feel anxious after trying some techniques, then we advise that you seek professional help. An expert in this area can help understand the root of the problem and work with you to deal with your anxieties.
Natural remedies may help
Some remedies can help relieve anxiety including herbal teas, aromatherapy and CBD. Cannabidoil may help alleviate the anxious feelings when travelling the Tube and can come in easy forms to fit in your bag, for example, CBD gummies are edible and can be consumed on the go.
Eoin Keenan, founder of Goodrays, said: ‘I’ve experienced anxiety on the tube before and it’s a difficult place to be in but there are lots of solutions to help you cope. I wanted to share tips that I found helpful from my own experience.
‘In fact, this is one of the reasons we wanted to launch Goodrays in the first place, to help people relax and unwind from the modern stresses of life. CBD is becoming a really popular choice because it’s natural, it’s convenient and we think it’s becoming pretty delicious too.’