When we truly understand that trauma is PHYSICAL, and not just some airy-fairy idea that isn’t tangible, we can do something about it. Specifically, we can support ourselves physically. In this episode, I talk about several ways to consider supporting yourself physically. Don’t get overwhelmed by the list; choose one area and start small.
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FULL SHOW NOTES
Something that I kind of understood, but not really, is that trauma is literally physical in your body. When you are in a stress response, the cells in your body respond. Energy is called upon, which comes from the energy powerhouse in the cells- the mitochondria. But where does the mitochondria get its energy from?
When we are in an activated response, high sympathetic, or when we are oscillating between that state and a shut down freeze response, it takes ENERGY. Our bodies are great at storing energy and then calling upon that energy when needed.
Those of us with chronic trauma, both require more energy AND have less energy to call upon because we have been depleted by the chronic trauma. So we have to get good at supporting ourselves physically. There are many way to do that.
I am going to outline a few fundamentals that you might consider implementing or getting better at in your life.
- Breath. Intentional deep breathing. This usually looks like meditation. We can live without food for about a month. We can live without water for a few days. But more than a couple minutes without breath and we die.
- Water. Take your body weight in pounds and divide by 2 to get the number of ounces of water you should be consuming daily. Do you hit the target?
- Whole, happy, healthy foods. Over time our food stream has decreased in quality. If you want to feel better physically, you should try to eat whole, happy (think free range chickens/eggs), and healthy food.
- Sleep. How rested do you feel after waking in the morning? Sleep is an essential to our physical well-being. In general, a healthy adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep, but you may need more or less than that. So many factors come into play when we talk about quality sleep, but a good starting point is tracking how much sleep you currently get.
- Movement. There is a correlation between depression and movement. People who struggle with depression generally get fewer than 6000 steps a day. We don’t know if the movement comes first or the depression comes first, but either way, it’s a good idea to hit the pavement and shoot for at least 6000 steps. In addition, working toward a big fitness goal can really improve your physical health. All things we’ve heard before and will need to hear again.
- 1 hour a day unplugged. I call this the presence habit. Our world requires us to be plugged in much of the day. (And if it’s not required, we fall into it anyway.) Having time away from your phone, your computer, or any kind of screen, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night can really improve your physical health.
- I didn’t talk about these in the podcast episode, but having solid morning and evening routines can anchor the rest of the habits in place. I highly recommend implementing even if they are only a few minutes long.
- A daily Joy habit. With trauma, it is important to learn to focus on joy or feeling good. Working on a project or having a simple something in your life that brings you joy on a daily basis can go a long way with your trauma healing.
- And lastly, our greatest resource is attachment or relationship. The people in our lives can be very supportive of us, and remember, we we talk about support, notice that something physically changed in your body when you feel supported by another.
There are a myriad of other things that can be physically supportive, but these are just the basic fundamentals. We are looking for things that make you feel GOOD in your body. For myself, I love sunshine, forest bathing, fresh air, sitting in a hot tub, and dancing amongst other things.
A word to the wise: this list can lend itself to overwhelm, which is just going to keep you stuck in your trauma coping response. I HIGHLY recommend you choose ONLY ONE thing to work on at a time and choose one small way to start practicing. Focus on what you can do in less than one minute to implement one of these habits. The journaling questions might help you in this journey.
Journal Questions (to be able to download or print them, go here):
- On a scale of 1-10, how well are you already doing with each fundamental listed?
- Movement (6000 steps)
- One hour unplugged
- AM or PM routines
- Daily joy
- Relationship support
- What ONE area do I want to focus on and why?
- What is a minimum baseline (1 min or less) I could implement in this area?
Journal these questions to yourself, share with a friend or partner, ask me questions on Voxer (@denitabremer) or bring them to a free call so I can help support you.