Tight shoulders, chronic pain, stomach issues, loss of sleep, irritability, leg cramps, headaches… the list goes on and on. Many of you who have had difficulties with psychological symptoms have long held that the mental becomes physical. Science is now backing you up!
In psychology, there is a term called somatization. It’s a fancy word for just that: the idea that your psychology affects your physical body. Long ago, we truly didn’t know that it was true. We thought that it was all in your head. However, now we know that your thoughts and mood can and will change muscle tone, digestion, hormones, and all kinds of other body processes. It’s not all in your head!
Why is this important?
Well, when you practice something like Trauma and Tension Releasing Exercises (TRE) therapy it’s helpful to understand WHY it works. Many people think I’m a bit off when I discuss how simply shaking can help resolve old trauma. I get that. It’s an odd concept-until you understand the why behind it.
Our nervous system is amazing. There are nerves that run the span of your entire body: miles and miles of nerve endings. Anxious people know this best. When you feel anxious you feel it in your entire body. It’s AWFUL. Many other feelings have symptoms throughout your body as well. When we think of memory, we think of emotional or mental memories. However, your body holds memories too. Athletes know this from the concept of “muscle memory”- your muscles can remember movements long after you have stopped doing them. For example, we have the saying that “it’s as easy as remembering to ride a bike.” When someone says this, they’re referring to muscle memory. Once you learn how to ride a bike, you can not ride for several years, go back to it, and not have to relearn it because your muscles remember what you originally learned. Unfortunately, this also goes for trauma. Your body remembers what happened. These symptoms can get “stuck” in the form of muscle pain, headaches, stomach and digestion issues, tension and cramps, flinching at a certain touch, and any other number of symptoms.
This is where TRE comes in.
TRE uses this network of nerves and muscle memory to your advantage. This treatment method addresses the way your stress and trauma are stored in your body by using a natural healing mechanism that is already built into your body. Through shaking, TRE helps your body work out these stuck impulses. It’s really helpful that it doesn’t require you to be able to convey in words how you feel, which traumatized people often have difficulty with. In using this shaking mechanism, the impulses are worked through, muscle tension is relieved, stress hormones are decreased, and your nervous system calms down. This then allows you to heal from the trauma and either continue with any other therapeutic work you have to do, or move on with your life. Training in TRE also teaches you a coping technique that you can take with you and use long after your time in therapy is over.
So, if you fear therapy because you don’t have the words or you are afraid you may relive it, you might consider TRE.