TRAUMA AND STRESS
A little bit about trauma and stress. Some stress is ok but when stress becomes chronic it can impact your physical health and mental well being. Trauma and stress is a body experience and manifests differently for everyone. Our body needs to be in a relaxed state to rest, repair, restore and heal.
Unresolved trauma can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This may include the trauma from sexual abuse or assault, childhood trauma due to neglect or abuse, acts of violence, experiencing a natural disaster, a car accident or workplace accident.
Common overlooked causes of trauma involve divorce or a breakup, the impact of living through COVID-19, surgeries, a sport injury, unexpected death of a loved one or diagnosis of a life threatening condition.
The theory behind body psychotherapy is that the nervous system can become dysregulated from too much stress and trauma. The nervous system is connected to the Limbic system - our emotional brain. When we encounter an upsetting event our stress-response secretes hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the body to prepare for fight, flight or freeze. The activation of fight, flight, freeze can cause physiological changes such as tense muscles primed for action, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. The body does not know the difference between an imminent threat or common stressors causing it to become stuck in a fight flight response.
The long term effects of a hyperactive stress-response can overwhelm our nervous system and cause it to become chronically dysregulated. Signs that your nervous system is dysregulated includes anxiety, panic attacks, depression, confusion, distorted thoughts, impaired memory, emotional reactivity, fatigue, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and even physical ailments such as chronic pain and headaches.
An integrated approach to treatment provides tools to direct our mind inwardly, repair neuropathways, access somatic awareness, practice breath work and learn release techniques to resolve stress and past trauma. These skills are developed not only through talking but by listening to our bodies physical symptoms which helps us become more aware and better communicators.
The benefits of this approach may include, arousal regulation, stress-relief, decreased anxiety, reduced depression, increased self-awareness, effective communication and boundaries, assertiveness, relational intimacy and increased resiliency.