If you've ever experienced stress, anxiety, or trauma in your life, you may have turned to traditional methods of healing like taking certain prescribed medication or going to talk therapy to alleviate your symptoms.
But have you ever tried somatic exercises?
What are somatic exercises?
Somatic exercise is a form of body-centered therapy involving gentle movements that target the body's central nervous system.
This kind of somatic therapy focuses on unlocking sensations and releasing repressed emotions and physical experiences by encouraging and utilizing the innate connection between the mind and body.
Essentially, somatic exercises are repetitions of simple movements that can provide relaxation, relief, and healing for anyone experiencing or dealing with trauma, stress, or a dysregulated nervous system.
What are the benefits of somatic exercises?
The benefits of somatic exercises — and the release of long-term stress, chronic anxiety, repressed emotions, and stored trauma that somatic exercises provides for the body — are genuinely astounding.
Benefits can include: healing gut issues, improving sleep, lowering stress levels and anxiety, increasing mood, building your immune system, and can even imclude behaivoral benefits like bettering your relationship with your partner and being able to say 'no' when you're asked to take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
This is because somatic exercises are one of the only practices you can do that can regulate your nervous system back into its window of tolerance (aka. it's optimal zone of arousal).
When you're living with extreme stress or stored trauma, your nervous system typically falls into two responses: Fight or Flight Response or Freeze Response.
When your nervous system is in a Fight or Flight Response, you're also in a Hyperarousal State, and you can experience symptoms like being hyper-vigilant, having racing thoughts, being emotionally reactive, and getting angry more often.
When your nervous system is in a Freeze Response, you're also in a Hypoarousal State, and you can experience symptoms like no energy, feeling shut down and closed off, dissociating, and numbing your emotions.
Somatic exercises return your nervous system to its optimal zone of arousal (its "sweet spot") where it can function optimally and deal with stress and emotions effectively and efficiently.
How do somatic exercises improve stress?
Somatic exercises are highly effective in improving stress levels by addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of stress. When we experience stress, our bodies tend to tighten up, leading to muscular tension, shallow breathing, and an overall sense of discomfort. Somatic exercises focus on releasing this tension and restoring balance to the body.
Somatic exercises help relax the muscles, promote better circulation, and reduce physical discomfort.
Somatic exercises also work on the psychological level by encouraging individuals to be present and aware of their bodily sensations. This heightened awareness helps individuals recognize and address stress triggers, enabling them to respond to stressful situations in a more grounded and resilient manner.
Additionally, somatic exercises activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's relaxation response. This helps to counteract the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated during stress and fight or flight responses.
Overall, somatic exercises provide a holistic approach to stress management by addressing the physical and psychological components of stress. Through mindful movement, deep breathing, and increased body awareness, somatic exercises promote relaxation, improve overall well-being, and equip individuals with valuable tools to better cope with stress.