Somatic Experiencing®: Healing Trauma and Stress

Recognizing how past traumas and stress affect the body can be a valuable resource in resolving the symptoms of stress and trauma. One of the core tenants of somatic-oriented work is that the body possesses its own wisdom and can lead us towards healing if we listen to it.

Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a technique that assists individuals in addressing and releasing stored trauma in the body. By focusing on bodily sensations and physical experiences, SE aims to regulate the nervous system and restore a sense of safety and equilibrium. SE commonly includes methods like body scanning, where individuals tune into different body parts to identify tension, and grounding exercises to foster connection and presence in the moment.

Incorporating somatic healing into daily life can be a powerful practice. Simple activities such as mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or gentle stretching can help individuals maintain a connection with their bodies and enhance a feeling of calmness and well-being. By integrating somatic practices into your routine, you can develop a deeper understanding of your body and emotions, promoting resilience and self-care.

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The Power of Connection: Nurturing Adult Friendships

Adult friendships are a vital and rewarding part of life, offering support, companionship, and shared experiences. I know what you are thinking, they can be really hard too!  As we navigate the complexities of adulthood, maintaining strong connections with friends can bring joy, laughter, and a sense of belonging but also a mix of other feelings as well.

The need for these relationships at this point in time is so important even with all the feelings that go along with it. These relationships provide a safe space to confide in, seek advice from, and simply relax and enjoy each other’s company. Whether bonding over shared interests, celebrating milestones together, or providing a listening ear during tough times, adult friendships play a significant role in our emotional well-being.

Cultivating these friendships requires effort, communication, and mutual respect, but the bonds formed can last a lifetime. If you got ’em, cherish your adult friendships and nurture them with care, for they are precious connections that add more depth and richness to your life. If you are open and looking for new friendships, I’m cheering you on! It can be hard to meet and connect with people. You got this!

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How Does Mindfulness Help With Stress?

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help manage stress in our daily lives. By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to be fully present in the moment, acknowledging our thoughts and feelings without judgment.

This awareness allows us to better understand our reactions to stressors and choose how to respond in a more calm and constructive way. Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help us cultivate a sense of inner peace and resilience in the face of stressful situations.

Remember, it’s important to be patient with yourself as you develop your mindfulness practice, and over time, you may find that you are better equipped to navigate the challenges that come your way with a greater sense of ease and clarity.

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Embrace Change and Growth: The Path of Self-Discovery

Self-discovery can be a transformative experience. It is a process of delving deep into our inner selves to uncover our true desires, values, and beliefs. Throughout this exploration, we often unearth hidden talents, passions, and strengths that may have been dormant within us.

Self-discovery is not just about understanding who we are in the present moment but also about reflecting on our past experiences and how they have shaped us. It involves being open to new possibilities, embracing change, and challenging ourselves to grow and evolve. By developing a deeper connection with ourselves and others, we can foster more meaningful relationships and a greater sense of fulfillment in our lives.

In a world that is constantly changing and evolving, taking the time to engage in self-discovery is a valuable investment in ourselves. It is a journey that is unique to each individual, filled with moments of reflection, insight, and growth. Embrace the process, trust in yourself, and allow self-discovery to guide you on a path towards authenticity and self-fulfillment.

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What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is a philosophy that encourages listening to your body’s cues and honoring your hunger and fullness levels without judgment. Introduced by registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, it involves tuning into your body’s signals to guide your eating choices, rather than following strict diets or food rules.

By practicing intuitive eating principles, individuals can develop a healthier relationship with food and their body that values care and respect. This approach encourages mindfulness, self-care, and self-compassion, helping individuals to make peace with food and strengthen body autonomy.

When we eat intuitively, we listen to our body’s signals and respond to its needs. Studies have found that eating intuitively is associated with positive health outcomes such as decreased disordered eating behaviors, positive eating-disorder treatment outcomes, and improved body image. Embracing intuitive eating is not just about nourishing our bodies physically but also nurturing our mental and emotional well-being.

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Healing Trauma: Navigating the Journey with Understanding and Care

Trauma is a complex and deeply personal experience that can have a profound impact on individuals. It is essential to approach the topic of trauma with empathy, understanding, and sensitivity. While the effects of trauma can be long-lasting and challenging, it is important to remember that healing is possible.

While talking about your experiences and emotions can be a significant part of the healing process, it may sometimes trigger negative feelings and worsen the situation. It’s essential to take the time to understand what feeling safe and comfortable means to you. This resource will be essential as you navigate through the healing journey.

It is also important to recognize that healing from trauma is a journey that looks different for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it is okay to take your time and be patient with yourself. Remember, you are not alone in your experiences, and there are resources and communities available to support you along the way.

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A Somatic-Oriented Approach to Healing

A somatic-oriented approach is a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth. By listening to the body, we can uncover deep-seated emotions and beliefs that may be influencing our thoughts and behaviors. Observing body sensations allows us to connect with ourselves on a visceral level, gaining insight into our innermost experiences.

Befriending the body’s autonomic state is a practice of acceptance and compassion towards our physical responses, fostering a sense of harmony and peace within ourselves. Understanding our unique story, including past experiences and traumas, can help us make sense of our present reality and pave the way for healing and transformation.

As we learn to listen and understand, it often leads to looking at the relationships around you. Moving towards or away from connection is a crucial aspect of somatic-oriented work, as it allows us to explore our relational patterns and preferences, guiding us towards more fulfilling and authentic connections with ourselves and others.

Embarking on a somatic-oriented journey is an invitation to cultivate self-awareness and deepen our understanding of both ourselves and the world around us. It is a path of discovery, growth, and connection that can lead to profound insights, lasting change, and maybe even a little fun.

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Trust Your Journey

It’s completely normal to feel anxious when facing unfamiliar situations or trying something new. Anxiety can often act as a barrier to stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing new experiences. However, it’s important to remember that growth and self-discovery often lie beyond our fears.

One way to overcome anxiety is to break down the task or situation into smaller, more manageable steps. By taking things one step at a time, you can gradually build your confidence and reduce feelings of overwhelm. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and deep breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, allowing you to approach new challenges with a clearer perspective.

Remember, it’s okay to feel anxious, but it’s also important to not let fear hold you back from exploring all the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer.

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Relaxing at a Red Light

About six years ago on a Monday morning, I was on my way to work and stopped at a red light. While I waited, I could see myself looking at my hands. They were gripped tightly around the wheel at ten and two. My hands had probably done that countless of times before, yet this time felt different. I tracked the tension in my fingers wrapped around the wheel, then up into my forearms, through my upper arms, and finally into my shoulders where they held tight and close to my ears.

If my hands had words, they would say “anxious”, “worried”, and “uncertain.” My body was bracing for something in the future. To be fair, my body knew what a Monday at work would be like; chaotic, fast-paced, and many other unknown variables. Thank you body for watching out for me! However, as I experienced this body awareness moment, I also sensed a choice point emerging. I could continue to ignore what my body was telling me or I could listen and respond in a caring and supportive way. I chose the latter.

To begin, I slowly and gently began to ungrasp the wheel and then wiggled my fingers every so slightly. The small movement sent a flood of information through my arms to my shoulders that it was okay to let go and relax. The light turned green and off I went to work, slightly more at ease and a lot more aware.

For the year that followed, I took small steps that allowed me to move in a direction with work that was more aligned for me. I valued my mental, physical and emotional health, a sustainable career, and most importantly, my body’s wisdom. With each step I took, I was communicating back to my body, “I’m listening and I trust you.”

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Experience Life Just As It Is

What would things look like if it did not have to be perfect?

I have been exploring this question in different ways- morning pages, meditation, and yoga to name a few. The more I practiced, the more I noticed a pattern.  At first glance, it was a desire to have consistency and discipline in my life. When I dug a little deeper, consistency and discipline meant that I was a good person doing the right things. If I was a good person doing the right things, it meant I would not feel distressed or hurt. I took a pause there. Gotta love self-awareness.

So lately, instead of using those practices to get rid of [insert distressing feeling here], I have been dedicating my practices to welcome and invite in whatever was present. The experience can be intense so when I needed some extra help, I used the Welcome the Wave exercise from the Hacking Your Nervous Card Deck. There are a few steps to the exercise but my favorite part was the phrase, “I will take care of you for as long as you need to stay. You are welcome and safe here.”

For me, it’s less about the outcome and more about softening and starting to open physically, mentally, and emotionally to whatever is arising. The spaciousness of the present moment lends itself to experience life just as it is. All of it is welcome.

I encourage you to give that question some thought and notice what you become aware of.

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