Many of us have gone through something traumatic: tragic death of a loved one, an unexpected break up, a natural disaster, or abuse from a parent.
Trauma sucks. It keeps us stuck in the past. The painful memories are exhausting and scary to relive. And although it can feel like trauma is stored in our brains as unpleasant thoughts, trauma is actually largely held as discomfort and physical pain in our bodies.
As a psychotherapist, I often suggest the following exercises to my clients in addition to our talk therapy sessions.
If you want to release trauma from your body, try:
Sit on the floor. This can be very grounding when we feel out of control. Try sitting cross-legged on the floor and rocking side to side using only your upper body.
Take a bubble bath. For relaxation and release of negative feelings, try taking a bubble bath for at least 40 minutes with sea salt a few times a week.
Walk on the beach. For those of you who have access to the ocean, walking on the beach three times a week will boost immunity and physical strength.
Dance. As you move, imagine yourself releasing pain from your arms, legs and crown of your head. Try dance classes, have a dance party in your apartment or get your friends together for a night out!
Acupuncture. For relaxation, trauma release and letting go of grief, try acupuncture. Make sure to inform your acupuncturist of your trauma in your initial session.
Restorative Yoga. Restorative yoga can be found in most yoga studios. The poses are composed of deep stretching and each position is held for longer than a typical yoga class. Trauma Informed yoga is also helpful and can be sensitive to your needs.
Massage. Set an intention before starting your massage. Some examples of helpful intentions include: deep breathing, release of emotions that no longer serve you, being present.
Hug. Research shows that if you hug someone who feels safe for at least 7 seconds, your body will release oxytocin and your nervous system will become more regulated.
Please consider speaking to a professional about your specific trauma triggers before implementing these suggestions as some of these practices may trigger disturbing memories.
We hear often that it takes time to heal our wounds. But the time is useless unless we actually use it to heal.