This month I will be focused on how trauma and chronic stress show in our physical bodies. What we feel emotionally is first experienced in our bodies as a physical sensation. Whether we recognize it or not.
Trauma often presents itself physically. When I have conversations with patients, I always ask if there has been a history of personal or collective trauma in their lives. Often this has never been asked by a doctor and they either look at me surprised or in gratitude. We have all experienced some level of trauma. Particularly these past 2 years where I have seen a dramatic increase in mood disorders, insomnia, digestive dysfunction, and hormone imbalances.
This chronic stress has negative impacts on our nervous system. Many of us tend to try to relieve this stress through exercise. While there are innumerous benefits to exercise, it does activate our parasympathetic system (rest and digest). We can do more harm than good if our bodies aren’t capable of handling additional stressors, even the good kind! Below are some of my favorite ways to release stress from the body. Do one or all three!
Your Embodiment Toolbox
Dancing. An incredible amount of trauma is stored in our bellies and hips, especially for women. Dancing is an excellent way to move this stuck energy out of our bodies in a fun way. Whether alone or with a group, daily dance parties are an integral part of my own healthcare regimen.
Breathwork. Focusing on our breath, whether for 2 seconds or 20, is an easy way to release trauma from the body. It is so simple most of us forget how powerful it can be. I recommend doing a 4-7-8 breath when you are using the restroom because what are you doing anyway besides sitting there! If you are having issues with constipation, then it can also be very useful to relax your digestive system when in the bathroom.
Voice Activations. Whether you are humming or singing, this activates your vagus nerve and helps your body relax. I recommend singing along to your favorite tunes while cooking or in the shower. This sends relaxing signals to your parasympathetic nervous system. Over time your body will recognize this state more quickly and you can access this peace more easily in the future.
If you want to dive into this topic more, please join me for a live mental health check-in next week. We will be answering some of these key questions. What is trauma? How do we identify we have trauma? How does it reside in our body and show up physically?