Have you ever felt gripped by feelings of anxiety or experienced a panic attack?
Anxiety can feel scary and isolating, but fortunately, there are many ways to treat and manage it.
Some people turn to holistic and alternative methods, such as chakra work, to find relief.
Chakras are wheel-like energy centers in the body that correspond to physio-emotional functions. They’re said to affect our emotional and physical well-being.
Some people believe that blockages in these energy centers can affect our health, leading to physical or mental health conditions, including stress, depression, and anxiety.
Research supporting the existence of chakras is limited.
However, a 2020 study of 223 people conducted at Nungin University in Korea suggests that chakra meditation may be effective in alleviating anxiety caused by various stressors in adults.
More high quality studies are needed to define and explain the role of chakras, if any, in anxiety and mental health.
Some believe that different chakras have different relationships to anxiety.
“The root chakra is the foundation of all other energy centers, so ensuring it’s well balanced and unblocked from negative energies is of utmost importance to your overall physical, mental, and spiritual well-being,” says Laura Konst, Complementary Medical Association certified chakra and crystal healer.
“The fiery red color that represents it is connected to our flight-or-fight response,” Konst adds, though there’s no scientific evidence to support this.
When the root chakra is blocked, Konst says, you may have difficulty accessing feelings of balance, peace, and security.
“A blocked or unbalanced root chakra will most likely manifest as a sense of loss and instability,” she says.
Jeannie Lymath, a certified crystal healer and reflexologist, agrees.
“When you feel scared and full of fear, the survival instinct is to shut down the root chakra so you can’t feed the other chakras within your body,” she says.
Location: base of the spine
The root chakra provides:
A severe blockage may lead to:
- feeling unable to take action
“If this chakra is blocked, you may find it hard to feel pleasure. Emotions will be unstable and relationships may not be balanced,” Lymath says.
Konst has a similar view.
“A closed sacral chakra can make you feel detached from your own emotions, as well as the emotions from the people around you,” she says. “You may try to regain a sense of control by lashing out and exhibiting controlling behaviors towards others.”
Location: center of the pelvis or sacrum
The sacral chakra is associated with:
A blocked sacral chakra may lead to:
Solar plexus chakra
“A blocked and unbalanced solar plexus chakra is probably the harshest imbalance you can have relating to anxiety,” says Konst.
In relationships, Konst says an unbalanced solar plexus may lead to jealousy and possessiveness: “It becomes harder to stay open to feedback. You may become reactive, harsh, and feel overly defensive or confrontational.”
Location: in the abdomen, above the navel
The solar plexus chakra involves:
- feeling unstoppable
An imbalanced solar plexus may lead to:
- low self-esteem
- paralysis from fear
- no sense of direction
- a sense of failure
“The heart chakra is all about love, both the ability to give and receive unconditional love for yourself and to others,” says Lymath. “If your heart chakra is unbalanced, you may feel unworthy of love or kindness which can spiral into a disbelief that you could ever have a happy relationship.”
This may lead to anxiety around self-worth and a sense of defensiveness toward criticism and personal attacks, she says.
“If you’ve been struggling to feel connected to the world around you, then you may be experiencing a blockage in your heart chakra,” she says. “Jealousy, self-doubt, and codependency are classic signs.” It may also lead to a sense of detachment and a fear of showing your true self.
Location: center of the chest
The heart chakra deals with:
- unconditional love
- ability to give and receive love
- healthy boundaries
A blocked heart chakra may involve:
- feelings of unworthiness
- relationship struggles
- fear of rejection
- difficulty accepting yourself
“The throat chakra is primarily linked to self-expression and communication,” explains Konst. “It governs the mouth, tongue, and throat and all lower chakra imbalances must be in order before you begin working on it.”
She adds that a blocked throat chakra can make you unable to express yourself. The stress of this repression can cause anxiety and insecurity.
Lymath believes this can lead to social anxiety over time.
“You can feel afraid to speak your truth or you do not believe you’re in a safe place to speak openly, which can escalate your sense of worry,” she says.
This can lead to a sense of pressure and fear around saying the “wrong” thing.
Location: at the center of the neck
The throat chakra involves:
- mouth, tongue, and throat
An imbalanced throat chakra may lead to:
- inability to express thoughts and feelings
- fear of speaking
- avoiding difficult conversations
- social anxiety and avoidance
Third eye chakra
Konst notes that the third eye chakra can be a major source of anxiety when out of balance.
This is because it becomes difficult to see things as they are as your perception and awareness become more limited.
“As your inner eye closes, your ability to perceive the big picture diminishes,” says Konst. “This circle of ruminating thoughts could cause you to be plagued by fear, self-doubt, and anxiety.”
Location: center of the head, between the eyebrows
The third eye chakra represents:
- spiritual clarity
- spiritual connection
A blocked third eye may lead to:
- inability to understand
“This chakra allows you to see the full picture, to understand that every single hardship is for a reason, and supports our surrendering to divine energy,” says Lymath.
“When the chakra is in balance, you can live life with absolute trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” she adds. “You can process all scenarios with less drama-driven emotion and your faith is unbreakable.
On the other hand, blockages may lead you to perceive every problem as a personal attack. You may have a sense that bad things always happen to you, says Lymath. This can lead to fear and anxiety.
Location: the top of the skull
The crown chakra is associated with:
- seeing the bigger picture
Blockages may lead to:
- taking things personally
- expressing negativity or a victim mentality
- lack of spiritual connection
Different kinds of stress may affect the chakras in different ways, causing them to become blocked or unbalanced.
For example, the death of a parent might put stress on the root chakra. A relationship breakup might affect the heart chakra. Losing out on a job opportunity might stress the solar plexus chakra.
Of course, the interconnectedness of the chakras means that they’re rarely affected in isolation.
“When a chakra is blocked, there is absolutely no energy movement at all,” says Lymath. “Much like lots of cogs in a clockwork mechanism, if one chakra is not allowing the energy through, it’s almost impossible for all the cogs to keep moving, so the mechanism stops working.”
She also believes that how we deal with stress is often linked to how well balanced our chakras are to begin with.
“In normal situations, a person with perfectly balanced chakras may become stressed or anxious, but it will be short-lived and there will be no after-effects from it,” she says.
Still, perfectly balanced chakras are likely rare.
About 6 million adults in the United States experience panic disorder. Lymath believes that panic attacks can have an indirect effect on the chakras.
The root chakra is connected to the adrenal medulla, the inner part of the adrenal gland that’s involved in the fight-or-flight response.
“Feeling unsafe and in fear for your life… will shut down the root chakra, blocking any movement of energy from the root chakra through the body,” she says. “This, in turn, may begin a domino effect, and the other chakras may become blocked.”
When discussing how to unblock chakras, it may be more helpful to talk about balancing the chakras as opposed to opening them.
“When we activate and balance the chakras, they do not need to remain open for them to be working effectively, but spinning happily away,” Lymath says. “Whenever I do chakra work, I tend to open them, energize them, balance them and then close them down so they are protected.”
If you feel anxiety as you work on your chakras, visualization techniques may help.
“Try to imagine a purifying white light being drawn to the particular chakra,” Lymath says. This visualization may calm you down and help settle the chakra energy.
“If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, stop what you’re doing and try again later with maybe a crystal of a corresponding color,” she suggests. “If it still feels ‘wrong,’ then contact someone who works in this field so they can help support you in feeling safe while you let go and surrender.”
If fear and anxiety are overwhelming, don’t rely on chakra balancing alone. Talk with your healthcare professional or a mental health professional to get support. Chakra balancing should never replace medical or psychiatric care, though it may be a complement to your care.
No matter the source of your anxiety, Konst says it’s a good idea to start working with your root chakra first.
“When you start working on your chakras, always start with your root, because as the gateway to the other chakras, it should be balanced first,” she says.
She also recommends spending time outdoors to connect to the earth and encourage a feeling of rootedness.
“Meditation outdoors with crystals that match with the root chakra such as red jasper, heliotrope, and obsidian can also help with anxiety,” she says.
Other common chakra-balancing exercises include:
- mind-body exercises such as yoga or tai chi
- energy healing practices like reiki or acupuncture
Lymath suggests the following practices to soothe anxiety.
Heart/solar plexus breathing
- Rub your hands together until they’re warm.
- Place one hand on your heart chakra and another on your solar plexus chakra.
- Imagine directing your breath to those areas.
- Continue for as long as desired.
Third eye pressure point
- Press one finger into the middle of your brows, where the third eye chakra is located.
- Place continuous pressure here while focusing on your breath.
- Continue for as long as desired.
Throat-soothing crystal energy
- Hold a blue lace agate crystal to your throat chakra.
- Allow the soothing energy to envelope you.
- Imagine the color of pale blue expanding from the crystal to every cell of your body.
- Continue for as long as desired.
- Place an obsidian crystal at your root chakra.
- Imagine you’re growing roots from your feet deep into the earth.
- Allow yourself to believe you have the strength and wisdom of the largest oak tree.
- Continue for as long as desired.
While research is limited, some people believe that blocked or unbalanced chakras can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.
It’s important to follow the advice of your healthcare professional or a mental health professional when treating anxiety.
However, you may find that holistic therapy such as chakra balancing acts as a complement to treatments like medication or talk therapy.
Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.