Living with stress can have serious long term implications on our health. But it doesn’t have to.
It’s natural for our bodies to go through times of trauma and stress and then rebound to full health. There are lots of things you can do to mitigate stress and trauma and prevent them from leaving lasting imprints on your body that ultimately deteriorates your health.
Which is important, because if we don’t release the traumas and stressors that we experience, our cells, organs, tissues and physical body as a whole literally changes.
This is the study of epigenetics — and I’ve seen it play out in clinical medicine over and over again: trauma governs what genes are turned on and turned off, how genes are expressed and used, and literally changes the way the human body functions.
If you are feeling the physical effects of trauma or prolonged stress, please know it’s not in your head — your body is literally physically different after prolonged stress and trauma. This is normal and reversible.
I’m so aware of how acute and prolonged stress affects our health that I’ve written many previous articles on this for you, such as:
- The Good News About Trauma Recovery
- Trauma Changes The Health Of Your Body, But It’s Reversible
- Childhood Trauma Affects Your Adult Health. But It Doesn’t Have To.
- Trauma Increases Headache Risk 4-Fold
- Childhood Trauma Increases Risk Of Self Harm. Here’s Help.
- Trauma Earlier In Life Ups Risk Of Surgery Later… Here’s Why
- OCD May Stem From Birth Trauma
- Need To Boost Your Hopefulness? I’ve Got You
- Reduce Your Overwhelm In 3 Breaths, Right Now With Me
- Your Food Choices Impact Your Anxiety Levels… Here’s What To Look Out For
- Anything Is Possible For Your Health. And I Mean Anything.
- Feel Immediate Relief With Grounding: Relax Your Muscles, Strengthen Your Bones
- Is Your Job Driving You Crazy? You Are Not Alone. Here’s Help.
- The Healing Process Of Grief
- Letting Go Helps You Heal (Here’s How)
In the video below, I’m talking about one of the easiest ways to mitigate trauma and stress as it occurs, and that is through grounding.
It’s a 8 min video that I created to help you (during the pandemic shut down in 2020) see exactly why grounding is in a unique position to erase stress from your physical tissues, and why I feel that grounding is an absolutely mandatory part of a trauma healing plan. The same exact reason that grounding was an essential healing plan during that lock down, is exactly why during any other stressor in your life, both those happening right now and those that will happen in the future, you want to get grounded.
In a nutshell:
Acute stress causes a physical reaction:
- your muscles become tense
- your heart rate is elevated and circulation is constricted
- your digestion shuts down and mouth gets dry
- your adrenaline & cortisol surge
- your sleep is disrupted
Long term this leads to:
- pain from muscle tension in the form of chronic tension headaches, tooth grinding & TMJ, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes
- heart disease, increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- inflammatory disorders of the gut, malabsorption, heartburn, reflux, irritable bowel
- an increased risk of autoimmune disorders
- adrenal fatigue, circadian rhythm disturbance, sex hormone imbalance, even early menopause or menstrual irregularities
- insomnia, memory problems, structural brain changes
Grounding directly addresses these issues, providing you with:
- a near instantaneous decrease in muscle tension
- improved heart rate variability (HRV) and enhanced circulation
- boosted digestion and vagal tone
- decreased inflammation
- normalized cortisol levels
- and deeper, more restorative sleep
If you have ever felt the relief of grounding, then you already know how supportive it can be and how resilient it helps your body feel. Literally helping to center you no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how stressed out you feel, even in the midst of a panic attack, the earth is waiting out there to center and support you.
It’s so good that it is a crucial component for treating long term pain… if you’d like to hear me talk more about that, you may enjoy this video I recorded several years ago during a medical conference on treating pain:
There are several other key things — beyond grounding — that you can do to release stress and trauma before it triggers PTSD and other traumatic sequela in the body. I go into each one in depth in my Trauma Resiliency & Recovery online class that starts in two weeks.
If you want to protect your current health from the ill effects of living through the largest pandemic in recent history, you want to be a part of this class.
If the current stress we are under now is triggering old wounds, old scars, bringing up PTSD or other trauma symptoms from past events you have survived… you want to be a part of this class.
In fact, if you notice that you are having a harder time dealing with the stressors that this global pandemic has caused than some of your other friends or loved ones, there is good reason.
If you’ve had a history of trauma, or a history of greater stressors in your life before the coronavirus circled the globe (such as serious illness or injury, death of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, financial struggles, legal troubles, etc…) than recent medical studies prove that this pandemic actually has been harder on you than those without a history of trauma.
We’ve known for a while that a history of trauma makes subsequent traumas more likely to cause PTSD:
- A study published in 1999 showed that a history of trauma increases the risk of getting PTSD with a subsequent trauma
- A study published in 2008 backed this up by finding that a history of trauma increases not only the risk of getting PTSD but also the risk of developing depression (Major Depressive Disorder, also known as MDD) when faced with a new trauma.
- And now, a study published in June 2020 looked at folks with a history of trauma and their response to a natural disaster — a major earthquake that struck the coast of Chile, killing over 500 people and displacing over 800,000 people. Researchers found that individuals who had 4 or more pre-disaster stressors had a significantly greater chanced of developing PTSD than those with no pre-disaster stressors.
They also found that having even one single predisaster stressor increased the chance of developing depression, and that every single additional predisaster stressor increased the odds of having a major depressive episode significantly higher.
Their conclusion was that having a history of stressors actually gives you stress sensitization, making you more vulnerable to the negative effects of a new trauma (including natural disasters, like our current pandemic) and increasing your risk of mental health issues.
This is particularly important to know in light of the recent pandemic, as it might help explain why naturally you may be feeling more overwhelm in the face of this global crisis than some of your other friends or family members who don’t have a history of stressors or trauma.
While it might make you feel better to know that your history of having major life stressors and traumas makes it completely natural and expected for future stressors to be hitting you in a deeper way than it hits others, you deserve some good news.
Is there good news with trauma?
The largest meta-analysis to date on trauma recovery (looking at data from over 11,000 relevant medical studies) suggests that the best long term recovery after trauma is simply talking about it, no medication required.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry on June 12, 2019, reasearchers looked at direct comparisons between talk therapy (psychotherapy) and drug therapy (pharmacological treatments) in patients with PTSD.
- They found that in the long term, talk therapy helped more, being slightly superior to drug therapy both immediately following treatment and in long term follow up.
- The studies they looked at ranged from 2 months to 6 months long, and this meta-analysis showed there was no advantage to using drugs in recovering from PTSD.
- This means that drugs are now no longer recommended for first line treatment of trauma, as there is no indication that they are beneficial.
While I am certainly not against the use of medications when they are needed, they should be used sparingly and either short term (as they do not show any long term advantage) or only for patients who don’t find improvement after talk therapy alone.
Be encouraged by this. Because this means that the vast majority of folks can be helped — and helped best — by talking about trauma instead of medicating it away.
Connect with others. Reach out for help. Don’t feel like you are going crazy and don’t feel like you must go it alone.
We all have trauma, we all do. But if your history of trauma is making this pandemic harder on you than on others, you can absolutely get through it. There is long term benefit from connecting to others and speaking about it.
The medical literature is clear… just communicating about trauma is every bit as healing (or even more healing) than all the best medications we have to treat trauma.
So simply joining a class, talking to a therapist, or connecting with others to heal can be just what you need to feel better than you have ever felt.
And here’s the best part: those who move through trauma can actually be healthier than those who never went through any trauma at all.
It’s incredible to believe that trauma can actually strengthen your health but it is true.
In my Trauma Resilency & Recovery Class I go over the medical literature that reveals that trauma can actually be adaptive and empowering, and I show you all the tools to use trauma to boost your own health in ways you never could have imagined possible.
I developed this class based on my extensive research into the best of what the medical literature tells us about how to release trauma once and for all and become healthier for it.
No matter what you have gone through, you absolutely do have the ability to rebound from from it and create a new normal and a new health set point. Everybody does. Your body naturally wants to bounce back to full and complete wellness… mind, body and spirit.
I’ll give you the tools to get there and walk with you through it. Class emails come directly into your inbox so that you can start healing, right from the safety and comfort of your own home. Join this course by clicking right here today.
And check in with others that you love that you know face significant stressors and might benefit from taking this trauma healing class right alongside you. Forward them this email and have them sign up alongside you. Together we can find relief.