7 Ways to Reconnect with your Body after TraumaSep 11, 2021
Getting back into our bodies is the best way to heal after experiencing trauma.
When we are able to reconnect with the body after trauma, we set ourselves up for a greater chance of healing and moving forward.
After one or more traumatic experiences or experiencing mental illness, it's normal to experience disconnection from the body.
Dissociation is a mental process that happens when someone disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories, physical sensations, and sense of identity.
This disconnection, also known as dissociation, is a survival mechanism used to numb out the emotional pain that comes with surviving a traumatic or intensely painful event.
It's our mind's way of protecting us from painful events in the past, present, or presumed future.
But when we disconnect from our bodies, we disconnect ourselves from the world around us.
We lose our connection to sensations, time, memories, and identity, and we begin to feel numb to our experiences.
You may experience dissociation if you recognize any of these things in your own life:
- Having flashbacks to traumatic experiences
- Feeling numb or distant from your surroundings
- An altered sense of space and time
- Feeling detached or disconnected from your emotions
- "Spacing out" or not being able to recall anything for a period of time
- Getting lost in "daydreaming"
- Memory loss about specific people, places, events, or stretches of time
In more severe dissociation cases, someone may also experience depersonalization (feeling as if the self isn't real) or derealization (feeling as if the world isn't real).
While dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization are helpful in times of survival, they can negatively impact our health and wellbeing if any of these becomes a habit.
These experiences can occur years down the road, long after the traumatic experience is over.
In a way, some people can get "stuck" in this survival mechanism.
And the longer one stays in this state, the more disconnected the mind becomes from the body.
Reconnecting the mind with the body is one of the most (if not the most) essential parts of healing from trauma.
When we can reconnect with our body, we're able to reestablish a safe, grounding relationship with ourselves and heal from the past.
Here are some of the ways you can reconnect with your body after trauma:
Beginning yoga was one of the most incredible things I've ever experienced.
I vividly remember going to a yoga class and having the realization, "Wow, this is my body!"
I burst into tears.
It was the first time I felt present and at home in my body in many years.
I felt like myself again for the first time in what felt like forever.
And it helped me cultivate an ongoing relationship with my physical body that has lasted until today.
If you can't afford to join a studio, you can search for classes on YouTube.
I used Psyche Truth's Yoga for Depression when I was first beginning yoga.
And Yoga with Adriene is one of my all-time favorite online teachers.
Breathwork allows us to disconnect from our mind's chatter and get connected to our body.
Intentional breathwork elevates our awareness and expands our ability to heal by connecting us back to our breath.
Wim Hof breathing is a breathwork technique that works well for reconnecting our mind to our body.
When I first started using Wim Hof breathwork, I experienced a lot of emotions. With this breathing exercise, it's normal to stir up all of the emotional energy stored in the body.
Breathwork can help us move through these emotions while becoming more connected with our body through the power of breath.
Particularly for people who experience dissociation, massage can help us rediscover the body and reconnect with ourselves.
Massage is excellent for relaxation and stress-relief because it decreases cortisol levels found in many individuals with PTSD.
When it reduces cortisol, the hyperarousal fight-or-flight state also decreases, which many individuals with PTSD experience regularly.
On top of that, it helps us really pay attention to our body's physical sensations as we feel muscles, tendons, and tissue of the body being worked through.
If you can't afford a massage therapist, you can do home massages with a partner.
Or you can massage your own body using lotion or massage oils. I personally love to reconnect with my body by giving myself a long foot massage at the end of the day.
Acupuncture is one of the biggest contributors to my emotional healing.
As I experienced years of dissociation, acupuncture brought me straight back into the room.
I was nervous about doing acupuncture at first, but I ended up loving it. To my surprise, I would fall asleep on the table almost every time due to high levels of relaxation.
Like massage, it can decrease cortisol levels and calm the fight-or-flight system that many individuals with trauma experience.
If you go to an acupuncturist for emotional trauma, be sure to tell them you want to calm your nervous system and work through emotions stored in the body. Ideally, they will be trauma-informed and practice consent-based bodywork.
You can also purchase an acupressure mat and do these sessions at home on your own time and budget.
There's no better way to get in touch with the physical sensations of your body than to jump into ice-cold water.
Jumping into a cold pool, an ice bath, or standing under cold water brings us directly into the present moment. It's like a jolt of life.
As you enter the cold, close your eyes and feel the water running down your skin and face.
Try to stay in as long as you can.
Then, let yourself air dry.
Feel your body's physical response to both the cold water and how the body dries from the air. Using this as a daily practice can help us reconnect with our bodies.
When we experience dissociation, our minds spend more time in the past, the future, or a fantasy land, than in the present moment.
Mindfulness is one of the best ways to reconnect with the body and heal from dissociation.
By practicing mindfulness, we consciously return to the present moment as often as we can.
You can use mindfulness in simple everyday tasks, such as household chores or bathing. When you wash dishes or take a shower, feel the water on your hands, smell the soap, feel the slipperiness of the suds on your skin.
Use the five senses to get in touch with your body and ground yourself in the present moment.
The more we become present in our everyday experiences, the less likely we are to experience dissociation.
Listen to what your body needs
This can be one of the hardest things to do for those who experience dissociation.
For many years, we have been out of tune with our bodies and needs. But simply taking the time to practice listening to your body can be incredibly healing.
Tuning in to what your body needs throughout the day, and giving your body what it asks for, is one of the best ways to reconnect with the body after years of dissociation.
Even simple things like getting a drink of water, resting, or calling up a friend when our bodies ask for them can help build a better mind-body relationship.
When we connect the mind with the body, healing can take place.
As you can see, there are many ways that we can reconnect with our bodies after trauma.
But it takes time and energy.
Put yourself first in every situation.
Allow every moment of the day to be an opportunity to rebuild a connection with your body.
Schedule a massage or acupuncture appointment (or do at-home versions).
Try taking cold showers, practicing mindfulness, and getting in tune with your body's needs regularly.
Make self-care a habit.
Over time, you will begin to feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.
It takes time, so be patient with yourself.
But keep trying.
The more energy we put into building this relationship with ourselves and our bodies, the more we can heal.
Is past trauma causing you pain in your intimate relationships?
Maybe your past trauma makes you feel like you're not good enough for true love?
Maybe it tells you that no one will ever love you after what you've been through?
Perhaps it's constantly trying to remind you that everything is your fault in your relationships?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would be a great fit for my Shifting Love program!
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It's a 12-week program that helps you move through all of the different obstacles that past trauma is getting in the way of finding and keeping true, fulfilling love.
This includes things like:
- Navigating how trauma impacts our intimate relationships
- Attachment styles
- Navigating triggers
- + so much more!
If you're ready to heal from trauma and take your intimate relationships to the next level, this program is for you!
Want to learn more about the program?
Book a free 30 min call with me and let's chat about whether you're a good fit for the program!
Want to create healthy, safe, & loving intimate relationships after trauma?
Take this Trauma-Informed Relationship Assessment!
Download the FREE Trauma-Informed Relationships Assessment to discover the 5 different areas that past trauma has impacted your intimate relationships.
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