November 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023 8 min read
Everything in our body is connected. Our emotions and thoughts have a big impact on our bodies and health.
Our bodies carry our memories and communicate how we are feeling. Our posture shows the effects of our life experiences. A depressed person can have hunched shoulders, move slowly, and look like they want to hide. A confident person stands up straight and walks and moves with energy.
We can become disconnected from our bodies and unaware of what we are feeling or how we appear. It can seem like there is no connection between our minds and bodies, but, in fact, mental health and physical health go together.
We’d like to be able to share more of our resources and support with you.
Traumatic experiences disconnect the mind and body. This is a way to survive intolerable fear and pain.
To get through painful and overwhelming experiences, you may have become detached, letting your mind drift away from your body. Your body is registering what is happening, while your mind is separating off and leaving you feeling numb. But your body does not forget the experience. You may not have the words for what happened to you, or you may be able to describe what happened but without feeling.
The feelings at the time of the traumatic events were too much for you to handle, but, even many years later, you may have physical flashbacks and health problems as a result. And as you numbed yourself to those negative feelings, you may have also lost touch with positive feelings and owning and enjoying your body.
Trauma can put you on high alert and in a state of stress much of the time. Growing up in an abusive situation where you never feel safe leaves you unable to stay calm and relax. You may often feel nervous and out of control. When you are reminded of the trauma you have experienced, your body will be very dysregulated. This means that you feel agitated and unable to focus in the present. Most of your energy is directed toward managing feelings of fight or flight as if you are currently in danger. A reminder of being emotionally or physically threatened or both triggers an uncontrolled reaction in your body.
When you are dysregulated, you may have all sorts of physical symptoms, including muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, skin conditions, and more. You may shake with fear or anger. Or, for people who tend to freeze, you might shut down mentally and be unable to think. Another way of dealing with these feelings is to overwork, keep frantically busy, and ignore how exhausted you are. Addictions to overwork, drugs, alcohol, and food are ways to manage these feelings in your body. They are all efforts to feel calmer and to chase away the bad feelings that manifest in your body and mind.
All these routes to avoiding bad feelings block you from discovering what you really feel, what you really want, and who you really are and can be. They make it difficult to make decisions and find direction and purpose.
But there are ways to reawaken your senses and reconnect with your body. This can help you let the negative feelings come to the surface so you can look at them more easily. When your physical body calms down, your mind also calms down. It becomes easier to face what happened and to put it in the past. Just talking about what happened is not enough to reduce or let go of those feelings. By practicing to connect with your body and gut feelings, you can understand what happens when you are having physical flashbacks and release the negative energy. Without all that stress, you can think more clearly, set some goals for yourself, and be more creative and optimistic.
Reconnecting with your body can help you feel stronger and more powerful. It can help you tolerate your emotions and not be overwhelmed. You will feel like you can defend yourself and feel safer. You will also be able to feel a greater range of feelings, including more positive emotions such as enjoyment, a sense of accomplishment, and love.
You can take back your body and regain a sense of control. Instead of worry and dread, you’ll be able to relax more and experience a sense of inner peace and calm.
All of the practices listed below reduce stress, which is a key to taking back your power over your body and mind.
Mindfulness practice can help you become aware of physical sensations. It can help build your awareness of how your body is registering anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and more. With greater awareness, you can become calmer.
Deep, relaxed breathing connects you with your body and calms down your nervous system. This relieves stress and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
Studies have shown that yoga has a special way of calming the mind and helping with focus and concentration. Holding the physical positions brings you into the present, gives you a sense of control over your body, and releases tension that you are holding in your body due to trauma and stress.
Martial arts improve posture, reduce muscle tension, and make your body more flexible. Learning a martial art makes you focus on your body and shows you what it can do. They build your physical and mental stamina and work every part of your body. All of this can help you reclaim your body and yourself. Knowing self-defence techniques gives you more confidence.
Strength training has both physical and mental benefits. Becoming stronger gives you a sense of control over your body and makes you feel more able to defend yourself, both internally and externally. As you become stronger, you will see you have more willpower and potential than you realize. Strength training is not only for young people; it is also good for the physical and mental health of people at later stages of life.
Running is a simple way to reconnect with your body and to lift your mood. Running is known to produce physical reactions in your body and mind that make you feel lighter and happier. When you elevate your mood, the negative energy in your body from trauma diminishes.
Dance is a joyful way to get in touch with your body. It’s not about being a great dancer or becoming a professional dancer. It’s about reawakening how much pleasure and joy you can experience and the positive way you can connect with others through dance.
Therapists discovered that bodywork was an essential element for healing trauma. It is often combined with talk therapy and makes it easier to talk about traumatic experiences without feeling either numb or overwhelmed with emotion.
Some of these therapies are:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
Resetting the Vagus Nerve – Vagus Nerve Stimulation (The vagus nerve controls heart rate, digestion, and the immune system. Vagus nerve stimulation counterbalances fight-or-flight stress responses.)
Massage therapy for trauma release
Trauma-based yoga practice
Somatic Experiencing (focusing on how emotions show up in the body)
Acknowledge how you feel in relation to your body.
Commit to taking action to calm your nervous system and reconnect with your body.
Choose a mindfulness practice to do at least once a day.
Select a form of exercise or movement to do at least three times a week.
Explore body-based trauma therapies.
Trauma can make people numb and detached from their bodies. In order to survive extremely difficult physical and emotional situations, you may have separated the mind and body. This can lead to a general feeling of disconnection, a lack of feeling alive, and a loss of connection not only with bad feelings but also with good feelings. It can be hard to even know exactly what you are feeling. This can lead to physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and illness.
By reconnecting with your body, you can think more clearly, understand what you are feeling, and let your emotions out without feeling overwhelmed. Since the body and mind are connected, healing from trauma and managing stress require healing both the body and the mind. Your body remembers past events, especially intense or painful experiences. By reconnecting with those feelings in your body, you can reduce stress and help heal your thoughts and emotions.
Susan Ellis studied psychology and anthropology at Barnard College and the University of Chicago. She has worked in many aspects of publishing, including editing and marketing scholarly journals, mainstream magazines, and books on psychology and psychoanalysis.
This journal is an empowering tool designed to help you find connections with your body. Document your thoughts and emotions daily to reveal insights into barriers inhibiting your body connection. Consistent use empowers you to challenge irrational thoughts, build an action plan, and reconnect with your body. Download your guide to a vibrant and empowered life now.