this post is about being kind to yourself + others re: how you/they respond to stress aka trauma, which can be hard when you’re in close quarters for long periods of time.
but first, some biology.
Humans have 4 nervous systems that keep us alive from dying.
The most recently evolved: social nervous system.
This is the part of us that sees a stranger walking towards us on the street + decided whether or not to avoid them or say hello. Avoiding a potentially dangerous confrontation can keep us alive.
If we decide to cross the street + the stranger follows us, then the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) decides to either fight or run away.
All kinds of stuff happens in our body when the sympathetic NS is triggered: adrenaline floods our body, blood rushes to our limbs so we can fight or get away, we might pee our pants a little. If the option our body chooses doesn’t work, then it’ll often switch to the other, i.e., if we’re losing the fight, we’ll run away.
If fight or flight doesn’t work to save us, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over.
This is the freeze response. Ever see a documentary about the Titanic and wonder why some people run + scream while others just freeze + do nothing? That’s the parasympathetic response – predators will stop trying to kill their prey when the prey stops struggling. And it’s an automatic response that you can’t control.
Lastly, the oldest nervous system: the enteric nervous system aka your gut brain. This is the last system that keeps our bodies alive, even after our brain dies.
As modern humans, our fight or flight gets triggered A LOT,
even at the same time as the social NS. Once we’re safe, the excess adrenaline energy created by the sympathetic nervous system needs to be discharged out of the body, otherwise it could end up as unresolved trauma.
Have you ever seen a deer or an opossum shake after escaping a predator?
It shakes + shakes, then goes about its business. It doesn’t end up on a therapist’s couch 10 years later talking about that one time there was a fox trying to get it.
For some reason, discharging trauma doesn’t happen as easily for us humans.
Maybe it’s because modern life feels like saber-toothed tigers trying to eat you all day long.
Biologically, unresolved trauma can end up manifesting as behaviors or as pain in the body.
Some possible signs of unresolved trauma:
Social Nervous System
→ lack of facial expression
→ inability to connect with others
→ feeling unheard/unseen
→ lack of eye contact
Sympathetic Nervous System
→ bad sleep
→ easily startled
→ excessive planning/worrying
Parasympathetic Nervous System
→ emotional or physical helplessness
→ lack of physical or emotional self awareness
Enteric Nervous system
→ digestive issues
→ extreme self judgment
→ avoiding key issues/places/people
So, if you’re annoyed when you’re significant other starts making plans like a prepper, remember that their past trauma informs their behaviors.
And when you start daydreaming to avoid the prospect of dealing with being suddenly unemployed due to emergency Health Department mandates, cut yourself some slack + know that this is how your nervous systems learned to survive before.
The bad news? Some of these behaviors can adversely affect client relations + other business decisions.
If you suffer extreme self judgment because of unresolved trauma in your enteric nervous system, how will you respond to constructive feedback from a new customer?
If you tend toward helplessness because of leftover stress in your freeze response, who will save you when your business takes a downward swing?
If you buffer your unresolved adrenaline response with addiction, how does that affect the rest of your business?
The good news is that you can release unresolved trauma from your body with some really simple tools.
Some of my favorites:
Cycling clears my head + body of immediate stress, but any movement works. If you want tailored movement to do at home, @sadie.365 is a workout wizard + she’s setting up virtual training sessions now.
Without a doubt, my coaching + mentoring relationship with @kate_marolt has upleveled LITERALLY every area of my life. Trusting yourself is a huge part of healing + I didn’t even know how that was possible until we worked together. She does single sessions + might have a 1:1 slot available for continued support.
Conscious breathwork can feel like anything from a full body orgasm to a relieving temper tantrum. It’s intense but sometimes that’s what you need. @solbreath facilitates in-person + online breathwork that will help you feel stress relief immediately.
Ortho-Bionomy is my favorite bodywork because it’s gentle, non-invasive + clothed manipulation of the body. It works all systems – from fascia to fluids to bones to muscles to aura – and all the trauma that’s stored within them. Sometimes you can’t feel it right away but true healing isn’t always instant. Until social distancing ends, @amandastevensorthobionomy does amazing remote work.
The body’s electromagnetic field extends beyond the body anywhere from 18” to around the whole globe. @lmstinnette works with your field (+ a BUNCH of other magical things) to facilitate your body’s healing, the results of which can often be felt immediately. Her work feels so supportive in-person and is just as powerful remotely. Text her, don’t DM because I’m not sure she checks IG.
It’s like body work + meditation at the same time! Mountain Spirit Acupuncture in Westminster, CO, is who I trust.
Like movement, I love meditation because it’s 100% ME. I can do it wherever + whenever. When I first started, I focused mostly on mindfulness aka being present. It’s super helpful in managing new stress, but it’s not the most healing part of meditation.
The body heals unresolved stress + trauma when you zone out in meditation: your brain remains online + feels sort of dreamy like the space between waking + sleep, and your body rests + heals. The opposite happens in sleep, where you body rests so your brain can recover + heal. @zivameditation makes is super easy + explains the science of why meditation works.
I love these modalities because they help to release unresolved trauma without consciously thinking about the trauma again
(except for talk therapy because you’ve got to talk about it.)
This is particularly helpful if you suffer from PTS or tend to loop in your trauma.
If you want to learn to meditate the lazy person’s way, the program that worked for me, zivaONLINE, is 50% off thru 3/31/20 to help more people heal while they’re social distancing. Click here for more details.
And if you have any questions about the biological model of trauma + how it can help you create better relationships with your clients, please leave a comment.
Take care of your nervous systems, nailfriend 💕
Disclaime: This post may contain affiliate links. If you decide to purchase something using one of these links, I may receive a commission. Best believe I only promote services + products I have used myself and believe will truly benefit my friends + readers.