How Your Body Remembers Trauma and 3 Ways to Heal
Trauma can leave a lasting imprint on our minds AND bodies, causing us to relive the event long after it has passed. But did you know that our bodies also have a memory of trauma?
When we experience a traumatic event, our nervous system responds by releasing stress hormones (cortisol), triggering the fight or flight response. This response is specifically designed to protect us in dangerous situations, but it can also lead to so many physical and emotional symptoms.
The more we understand about how the body records traumatic experiences, the better equipped we are to deal with, process and release those memories and heal.
THE SCIENCE OF TRAUMA BODY MEMORY
The science of trauma body memory is a growing field, exploring the ways that our bodies hold on to traumatic experiences long after they’ve occurred.
Research has shown that trauma can lead to lasting physical and emotional changes, from elevated heart rate or cortisol levels to chronic pain. In addition, "traumatic stress increased the likelihood of hospitalization with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood. These findings are consistent with recent biological studies on the impact of early life stress on subsequent inflammatory responses" (PMCID: PMC3318917).
As science continues to probe the mysteries of how our bodies and brains deal with trauma, researchers are learning more about how such experiences can be stored and remembered in the physical body and nervous system.
Acknowledging the role of body memory in trauma allows us to approach healing from a more holistic perspective.
THE EFFECTS OF TRAUMA ON THE BODY
When we experience emotional trauma, our nervous system goes into overdrive, releasing an influx of stress hormones of noradrenaline and cortisol that can leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Unprocessed emotional trauma leaves the nervous system in a hyper-aroused state, making it difficult for the body and mind to relax, impacting vital physiological processes like sleep and digestion. It can also impact the immune system, leaving individuals more vulnerable to illnesses.
Over time, this chronic stress activation takes an incredible toll on our physical health, leading to a host of issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, headaches, and digestive issues.
Moreover, trauma can also affect our mental well-being, causing symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or even a lesser known one complex PTSD.
It’s important to remember, healing IS possible, and you deserve to feel safe and comfortable in your body.
But, this WILL require work.
THREE WAYS TO START HEALING FROM TRAUMA
With so many approaches out there ranging from therapy and meditation to yoga and lab tests, there are many ways in which individuals can explore and harness the power of their body’s memory and find healing and restorative practices that can allow trauma to be processed and released.
By integrating both the mind into the healing process, we can begin to experience the way in which our physical body holds memories and trauma. This can be experienced as sensations such as pain, numbness, or tension within certain areas of the body. As we engage with these sensations and investigate them, we may find that they hold hidden layers of knowledge and guidance that can help us to release old wounds and move beyond trauma.
By listening to our body’s wisdom and learning how to integrate it into our lives, we begin a journey of healing that can be as unique as each individual.
- 1. Test, don't guess!
- So many times we try to be our own doctor and Google EVERYTHING! Then we follow our symptoms and end up doing things that may not be the best for OUR bodies. I believe data-driven protocols are the KEY to better health. I have exclusive access to 60+ functional lab tests, which I use teaches you how to identify and correct imbalances within the body using highly-personalized protocols that put an end to the chaos in your body.
I'm here to solve the problem when no one else can!
2. Stress Reduction is the KEY to Healing Autoimmune Diseases
This is something I can't stress enough (a little play on words) with my clients. Stress is present in every person's life, but it's how we respond to stressful events and activities that makes all the difference.
- When our nervous system is dysregulated from childhood trauma or chronic stress, we have a very difficult time getting ourselves through "normal" stress-events. If we don't regulate our nervous system, we end up with internal metabolic chaos, which can develop into autoimmune diseases. So what are some stress-reduction tips I suggest?
- First, as I teach my clients, we go through a protocol that involves a diet specific to you (each person's body needs specific foods and some foods actually make their body worse. Then we work on movement - typically slower movement like walking or yoga or pilates because many people who come to me have the trauma history and autoimmune diseases so their bodies are already toast. Rest is also a key pillar to stress reduction. And rest isn't always sleep. It's resting from work, from kids, from toxic family, from "doing" instead of being. Resting your mind.
- Second to stress reduction is to give yourself grace and compassion in the healing process. We can stress ourselves out more by over-thinking, or trying to make our health journey "perfect". You are on a life-long journey. Give yourself the grace and compassion that little child needed so long ago!
3. Get Focused Help
Whether this be from a trauma-informed therapist or practitioner who has been through trauma and autoimmune diseases themselves (you can book a call with me), please don't isolate.
This isn't something to take lightly. You can try to do all the workbooks, read all the books....but it only prolongs your healing if you aren't working WITH someone at the same time. I tried it for too long on my own (well, and conventional doctors) and didn't work out too well. I mean, I moved forward a BIT, but once I started diving in deep to the root cause with an informed-therapist, PLUS did the testing needed and stress-reduction techniques, ONLY THEN did my body and mind start to heal.
Trauma can be a difficult road to navigate, but there are a variety of resources available to help people begin the healing process.
And it’s important to remember that healing is not a linear process and it will take time. Be kind to yourself and celebrate every step forward. If you are in need of additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Remember, healing is possible and you ARE capable of experiencing it.