Trauma is practically a buzzword these days, and honestly, we’re happy about it. Normalizing and accepting that trauma affects every single one of us in various ways makes us more empathetic and aware people as a whole, and we need that kind of energy now.
Trauma takes on all kinds of forms. Some of us neglect to truly realize our traumas because we consider only big, heavy, really disturbing events to be traumatic. We want to reserve enormous space for that because it shapes a person. However, trauma can come in all shapes and sizes, and microtraumas add up.
We tend to store trauma in the body. Sometimes it’s obvious, like muscle tension, tightness, rashes, and breakouts. Sometimes we get migraines. It can manifest in chronic illness flareups, and hang out in our hearts, our fascia, and our digestive system. It’s important to be aware of our traumatic experiences, how they might take their toll on us, and how they manifest so that we can free ourselves from them. Here are some ways to release trauma in the body.
You’ll want to do this in the comfort of your own home because things can get weird. Sometimes, shivering is a reaction we have when triggered or stressed, and it’s great to embrace that. Shake. Gyrate. Jiggle it out. There is pent-up energy inside that doesn’t serve us. Get a little funky, and don’t care what you look like.
Our fists, fingers, shoulders, and arms can harbor tension that feels like it’ll manifest itself in a burst of rage. Before hitting a breaking point, let a pillow have it. Punch it, toss it, slap it, hard. Feel the energy flow and let something soft absorb your blows.
We are taught that crying is not appropriate. We hear “please don’t cry” in soft, empathetic pleas, but that’s the opposite of what we should embrace. Want to cry? Cry. Let tears softly fall, or ugly cry, openly sobbing loudly and cathartically. What a sad thing it is to fear our own human emotions. Embracing them is beautiful.
Again with the muscle tension. There are stories of people who hold tension in their bodies, like their hips. When working at a yoga practice, which takes years, some find themselves in breakthrough moments doing poses they often do. A pigeon pose might elicit a hip opening you never could have imagined, releasing emotion in a surprising and yet cleansing way. Embrace it, practice it, purge it.
Try hugging yourself. It sounds strange, but loving yourself, not just emotionally but physically, can be very powerful. Tap on your arms. Do it for 25 reps, take a deep breath, and hug yourself again. Repeat until you begin to feel calm. Many somatic therapists are available to guide you through practices like this, including EMDR therapy, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which removes the power and significant hold trauma has on our bodies and psyches.
Walk, walk, walk. Make it a habit to center yourself, and walk briskly. Take in colors, smells, and sounds of nature, and feel your muscles propel you. Studies show walking can help reduce pain in the body caused by trauma, and it’s so easy and free.
Scream in your car. Into a pillow. Off of a mountain on a hike. Let the sound escape you and feel your breath and negative thoughts expel, like vomit. Sorry for the image, but it’s truly profound what an animalistic outburst of pure sound can have on the trauma held tight in the body by being societally upright all the time, despite the turmoil inside.
A powerful tool in mindfulness and meditation, breathing exercises help center you, bring oxygenation and nutrients to your brain and extremities, and calm the entire body. Imagine the breath entering you is full of healing light and love, and the breath exiting you is dark and toxic, which can give real perspective to the actual authority that it holds.
Get outside and connect with the earth below you. Take off your shoes to remove any blockages, and let the energy flow out of you and into the ground in a beautiful symbiotic exchange of flow.
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