Traumatic experiences have a huge impact on our minds. And on our bodies. Sometimes, the responses happen immediately. Sometimes, it takes time for trauma symptoms to appear.
Trauma can take so much away from us, including our joy in life and our concept of the world as a friendly place. Trauma can destroy our relationships and steal the purpose from the work we do.
Furthermore, trauma can cause persistent physical discomfort and severely disturb the internal nervous system. Rapid heart rates, nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, panic attacks, and even digestive problems can all stem from unresolved trauma.
Left untreated, those symptoms can be triggered by smaller, seemingly unrelated events later. Triggers often link somehow to the original traumatic experience. Sometimes trigger events are hard to identify. Perhaps they are related sounds, smells, or colors. Symptoms often arise when trauma anniversaries or memories and similar situations occur.
Loss can be a deeply traumatic event. When you lose a loved one, a relationship, your sense of independence, or a job you love, the world you knew is shattered. It can be hard to overcome.
Loss and trauma can cause changes in your body, where the trauma can be held for a long time. You need to grieve the loss and construct a new version of the world, inside and out.
To that end, somatic therapy offers a very effective tool for releasing and healing trauma after a loss. It is an effective tool for making life changes in addition to a cognitive approach.
Traumatic events are outside our control. The impact of trauma on the body and mind varies between individuals. It has a lot to do with your personal history, the individual condition of your stress response system, as well as many other factors.
Post-traumatic stress symptoms are not a sign of weakness. You cannot just switch them off.
Interplay between body and mind
The experience of trauma and loss is both psychological and physiological. Your response to grief and loss is an intricate interplay between body and mind.
Talking therapies allow you insight into what happened to you. They also offer management strategies for trauma symptoms, helping you work through your thoughts, memories and behaviors.
How trauma gets ‘locked’ in your body
Somatic therapy also addresses the long-term effects of trauma in your body.
Traumatic experiences evoke the human stress response, an instinctive response to danger that increases your chances of survival. This is the so-called ‘Fight/Flight/Freeze’ response.
Normally, the stress response powers down and the relaxation response kicks in when danger ends. Sometimes, ‘stress energy’, is ‘locked’ into your system and held in your body for a long time, particularly in your muscles and gut. You may or may not feel it, but it affects your well-being.
How to release ‘locked’ energy
Somatic therapy offers tools to release that locked energy from your muscles and your body in general. You don’t have to carry the extreme survival response anymore.
Fight or flight (and freeze) response and its resolution.
The fight or flight response (and the more extreme freeze response) usually resolve naturally. However, in the case of trauma, that natural process is disturbed. Somatic therapy can release it.
This is especially true for loss and grief. You will no longer feel ‘stuck’ in the traumatic past. You won’t feel forced to relive the traumatic memories. Your body is the agent of change.
Along with therapy, behavioral tools help in the treatment of trauma.
When it comes to grieving death, many cultures already have elaborate rituals that support the transition. For other losses, you may need to develop more personal rituals.
Trauma steals your enjoyment of life, peace of mind, the ability to cope with minor stress, and your hope and trust for the future. Fortunately, they aren’t lost forever. Not if you take steps to seek treatment. An experienced somatic therapist helps restore a nervous system stuck in a trauma response. Ultimately, you can recover from trauma and an elevated stress response.
Trauma resolution is possible and will change your life for the better.