Stressful situations happen as part of life and we have built-in systems to manage them. However, sometimes either a one off stressful or traumatic event or an accumulation of various stressors over time can cause the system to feel overloaded.
Stress has been linked to various physical symptoms such as:
• Low back pain
• Feelings of tightness or difficulty when breathing
• Agitation and a feeling of needing to move
• Tight muscles that haven’t responded to previous interventions
• Panic attacks
• Feeling of sickness or nausea
• Chronic fatigue
• Digestive disturbances
• Chronic pain
• Frozen shoulder
• Heart palpitations
In order to understand how things get too much, we need to appreciate what a normal stress response is.
Essentially, our response to stress or threat is governed by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It is hugely intelligent and mobilises various fight or flight processes to help keep us safe. These include an increase in cortisol levels, a readiness of the muscles of the body to engage, changes in breathing patterns and a relative shutdown of the digestive function as energy is used elsewhere. Once the body perceives that the threat is gone, it sets off a chemical cascade that returns us to balance (homeostasis).
However, when we find things getting too much and we feel overwhelmed, it is as if the threat never leaves and our system remains on high alert so the body is not able to return to balance. This continual exposure to high levels of alert takes its toll on both our physical and mental health.
The body holds the key to healing
The good news is that because of the body, brain feedback loop, where information is gathered from the body to inform the brain, we can use the body to interrupt this stress pattern.
Somatic Experiencing is a form of body therapy specifically designed to track physical symptoms and use them to restore balance across the system. I regularly see clients who have been to their GP and other medical professionals and had full assessments and investigations that have not resulted in any definitive medical diagnosis. I am able to offer a specialised and comprehensive approach that looks at the body differently. I help people to seek the root cause of symptoms which are often stress related. Somatic Experiencing helps to renegotiate the stress response and allow the system to settle back to balance.