Traumatized: A Nation in Need of Safety & Balance, individually & collectively
"As a human species, we are neurologically, biologically, and physiologically designed to experience, endure, and survive, and even evolve from traumatic events. We are genetically encoded to let go of and recover from trauma as a way of ridding ourselves of any experience that obstructs or interferes with the natural evolutionary process of the human body." - Dr. David Berceli
My experience working with clients with chronic tension and trauma unveils story after story of seizures, migraines, gastrointestinal problems, sciatica, autoimmune disorders, inability to sleep, anxiety, ADHD and so on. The connection between trauma and health is complex, not surprising because there is still so much to learn about our bodies.
Trauma is being overwhelmed due to seemingly unbearable life experiences. Traumas can be categorized as "hard traumas" or "soft traumas."
Hard trauma is an incident that is easily identifiable such as a car accident, personal injury, serious harm or a natural disaster. It is a moment in time that one can identify as a disturbing experience; but one that likely can be healed.
Whereas a "soft trauma" is less identifiable. These are experiences such as prolonged psychological or emotional child or spousal abuse, domestic or social violence. These traumas may be more unconscious rather than obvious and physical. These types of abuse are often more difficult to identity but are no less traumatizing than hard traumas.
Everyday life is stressful and the body registers stress in the form of muscular tension patterns.
Trauma overwhelms our entire sense of self, limiting choices, as we lack awareness of healthy tools and resources. Oftentimes we must hit "rock bottom" before finding new ways to think and feel. Those who have healed successfully from trauma discover that life is richer, fuller and more caring than ever experienced before. This inner development of compassion, caring, and sensitivity is self-renewal and it happens when one is forced to explore the painful depths of humanity that they were previously unprepared to do; an exploration that creates a deeper sense of connectedness to life and stronger bonds of connectedness to others and even to the universe.
Every trauma, whether physiological, cognitive, emotional or interpersonal, affects the physical body. The healing of trauma begins in the body.
A hot topic in science recently is the vagus nerve, an extensive nerve that is taking center stage as a potential "OFF SWITCH" for disease.
The vagus nerve's job is to keep your immune system in-check. There's a close connection between chronic stress, immune functioning, and inflammation. In brief, short-term activation of your sympathetic nervous system releases cortisol and helps keep your immune system at healthy levels. BUT long-term stress suppresses immunity leading to a slew of problems. Chronic traumatic stress leaves your immune system unchecked which leads to inflammation in the body. video
Regulation of the nervous system relies upon the goldilocks principle: We recognize that we are "too hot" when we feel keyed-up, anxious, irritable, or panicky. We are "too cold" when we are shut down, depressed, or feeling hopeless. Alternating between these two states is like driving with one foot on the gas and one on the brakes.
Practices that regulate the vagus nerve are aimed at either relaxing or re-energizing ourselves depending upon what is needed to feel "just right" or to regain a sense of balance. see video
Trauma, Health and the Vagus Nerve.
Natural vagus nerve stimulation is what's needed to relieve keyed-up or shut-down nervous system states. You can indirectly stimulate your vagus nerve, the nerve that passes through your belly, diaphragm, lungs, throat, inner ear, and facial muscles. Practices that change or control the actions of these areas of the body can influence the functioning of the vagus nerve through the mind-body feedback loop. You can easily try these from the comfort of your living room:
1. TRE TRE (tension & trauma releasing exercises)
2. Humming Humming
3. Conscious Breathing (video)
5. Touch/Connection (hugging until relaxed)
Self-care practices are crucial in times such as ours. It is important to learn healthy tools for self-regulation and to know when to seek out professional therapeutic help. Asking for help can often be the hardest step. You do not need to walk the healing path alone.
Passionate about self-healing and empowering others to take healing into their own hands.