We previously discussed trauma’s effects on the body when stress hormones are produced as part of the fight or flight stress response. For human beings, the fight or flight responses often results in a “freeze” state. Though the body and brain are being primed for reactive action, an individual simply freezes. As a result, the traumatic event becomes “frozen” in the body. Stress hormones linger in the muscles, which can cause pain and discomfort, or eventually lead to the development of disease and disorder. Living with the physical sensations of trauma can be extremely challenging when the trigger of those sensations also trigger difficult traumatic memories. Physical healing therapies, as well as physical movement, are a necessary part of trauma recovery to rebuild the connection between mind and body while simultaneously freeing trauma from the physical experience.
Overcoming the human tendency to “freeze” in response to “fight or flight” engaging is easier said than done. If we are triggered by loud noises and hear a significant “boom” we might want to run, hide, or duck for cover with all of our might; because our trauma lives in our bodies, we freeze, become paralyzed by stress, and are then affected by that sensation in our physical being. Then triggered by our physical trauma, we psychologically shut down, which can lead to a variety of different emotional and behavioral responses.
Learning to move the body after being triggered is learning how to participate in the dance of trauma by working with our trauma as a partner, rather than run from our trauma like an enemy. After being triggered, it is imperative for us to find a way to move our bodies and release the stress hormones in our muscles. We can:
- Take a walk
- Go for a run
- Spend time at the gym
- Do some yoga
- Stretch our body
- Jump up and down
Whatever we choose to do to get the body moving, we choose to act against our instincts to freeze and shut down. Moving our bodies doesn’t negate or diminish the significance of being triggered or even potentially re-traumatized. Moving our bodies is one of the many ways we make peace with living in trauma recovery and take back ownership of our physical experiences rather than let trauma dictate the course of our lives.
Khiron House is the only private treatment center in the UK who independently publishes an annual report on outcomes. We believe in the treatment we’re providing because we see the results every single year. Effective residential treatment utilizing cutting edge treatment and therapy options puts an end to the roundabout revolving door of treatment many people suffer. For information on our programs, call UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours) USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).