Body Awareness After Trauma

body awareness

Trauma in the Body

By: Angela Englander              January 17, 2016

Trauma has a number of effects on an individual’s life, it can cause flashbacks and nightmares, intense emotions such as fear and rage, feeling different than other people, and feeling separate from the rest of the world. One side effect that is not as commonly talked about however is the effect traumatic stress has within the body.

Body awareness and body dissociation can cause a number of symptoms including body pains, headaches, stomach aches, and numbness, problems with balance and coordination, and sensory integration difficulties. At times individuals may be considered clumsy and uncoordinated, at other times they may be seen as fussy and temperamental because of how particular they may be about their environment. Children who have been traumatized and especially susceptible to these body symptoms and may complain about the textures and consistency of their food, the feeling of their fabric on their skin, and noise in an environment. When the body is overwhelmed and on high alert chronically even these every day experiences can be perceived as intense and dangerous.

There are a number of strategies that have been studied and shown to be effective in decreasing the intensity of trauma symptoms. Some strategies are yoga, breathing exercises such as square breathing such as the one demonstrated in the square breathing video http://waystowellbeing.ca/video/, belly breathing, and body scans like the one described in this article http://waystowellbeing.ca/therapy-to-prevent-cancer/.

If you are finding that you have a lot of headaches, stomach aches, body pains and other physical trauma symptoms engaging in some of these body awareness exercises will likely help you release the tension and decrease the sadness and fear your body is holding onto. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail angela@waystowellbeing.ca and as always, good luck on your healing journey!

Reference: Langmuir, J. I., Kirsh, S. G., & Classen, C. C. (2012). A pilot study of body-oriented group psychotherapy: Adapting sensorimotor psychotherapy for the group treatment of trauma. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4(2), 214-220. doi:10.1037/a0025588

Newton, A. (2014). The body in relationship: The intersections of body-awareness, attachment, emotional regulation, and trauma

Price, C. J., & Thompson, E. A. (2007). Measuring dimensions of body connection: Body awareness and bodily dissociation. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 13(9), 945-953. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.0537

Scaer, R. C. (2014). The body bears the burden: Trauma, dissociation, and disease (3rdition. ed.) Routledge.

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One thought on “Body Awareness After Trauma

  1. Slowly begin to pull your shoulders up and in toward your ears as you inhale. What do you notice? Can you feel tension in the muscles that connect your shoulders and neck as you pull your shoulders up and in? What images come to mind as you sit with your shoulders pulled up to your ears? How does this body position affect your emotions, your sense of self? Notice how you’re breathing at this moment. Are you holding your breath in?

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