It might be easy to feel like trauma is something that will always be with us, that we will just have to carry for the rest of our lives. But accessible methods for healing are proving otherwise and giving thousands of people a new lease on life.
If we don’t work through our hardest experiences and feelings, they seem to linger and hold more power over us. When we face them head-on and give ourselves the support and space to heal our emotional wounds, some really profound shifts can happen.
Some exciting approaches are being used to make this happen. Since trauma is kept in both the mind and body, it makes sense that modalities that tap into the mind-body connection are successful to produce long-lasting healing.
For example, deep breathing is one mind-body technique that has been employed for helping people recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, along with practices like yoga and meditation. This could be because many survivors report airflow limitation or constricted breathing.
Another tool that may be a throwback to childhood is drawing. Think about how openly kids express themselves through drawings, and how infrequently we do that as adults. Art therapy can be used for adults overcoming trauma, allowing the brain to process emotional, visual, physiological, and sensory experiences that were felt at the time of the event. While drawing and coloring are often used, people find all sorts of artistic mediums can be beneficial in this way.
One of my own favorite mind-body exercises for relieving stress is dancing, which has also been shown helpful for people recovering from trauma. Dance/movement therapy involves emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration to benefit overall well-being, and as an extra bonus, any activity like this promotes feel-good endorphins.
Unfortunately, we all deal with trauma at some point in life, but the good news is we can address it and come out stronger using the right tools. If you’re curious to learn more about these practices for trauma and stress reduction be sure to check out last week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy with my good friend and guest, Jim Gordon. Jim is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma and has traveled across the globe helping people of all ages heal.
I hope you’ll tune in to hear about the power of moving through trauma using integrative modalities like the ones I’ve shared here.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD