The connection inside of ourselves physiologically and psychologically is something health practitioners and researchers are learning more about it seems almost daily. Whether we are experiencing trauma, illness, chronic pain, grieving, longing or any other type of need for care in our bodies, there are a few tools that are incredible in their scope of creating safety and increasing our health. Feeling safe in our own bodies is critical to healing of all kinds - emotional, physical, mental and relational wholeness go hand in hand with feeling safe in our own skin.
What are some ways to help with facilitating that sense of safety?
Breathing. It sounds silly to emphasize something we do naturally, but try to take a deep breath in until you feel it stretch your lower belly. You can place your hand on your stomach to help you get a sense of expanding your tummy. Hold that breath for as long as you can gently, perhaps to a count of four or five, and then exhale slowly. When you let go of your breath try to control the outflow while saying shhhhhh like you would to comfort a crying baby. That engages your prefrontal lobe in your brain. Try doing that belly led breathing four or five times. Just doing that one thing for a few repetitions can change your central nervous system profoundly. Practicing this even once a day will impact your body and brain.
Asking for what you need. For some this is about as easy as learning Swahili. Especially when I suggest that they do this without expectations, demand and with specificity. Finding someone we feel safe with and sharing with them what we need is a way we can take ownership back of our body and healing. If that someone can't offer us what we need, I recommend asking the question: What is it I need/want right now and how can I provide that for myself? You are worth providing for. Identifying what you need takes your brain out of fight or flight reactivity, and allows you the opportunity to comfort and take care of yourself.
Breathing calms our bodies and brains and allows us to identify what we need. Knowing what we need creates self awareness, which allows for volitionality: the power of choice. One of the most powerful forms of control we have is where we direct our attention, how we wallpaper our minds can be life changing in many ways.
Practicing Gratitude. Researchers have found that practicing daily gratitude transforms the quality of our sleep, increases our self confidence and our self control. The color green, the way someone held the door on the bus for us, the fact that our favorite cereal was on sale, the neighbor's cute puppy, the squishy hug from our child, the light at sunset that we glimpsed out the window... all of these things are more than just beautiful moments we can capture and savor. Noticing them is also transformative for our bodies.
Sharing a list each day in a journal, in a text we send to a friend, on a black board, on Instagram, or during dinner conversation of several things we are grateful for is more than just a way of noticing good things, it also changes our bodies and brains.
Breathing, asking for what we need gently (even to ourselves) and paying attention to what is good and beautiful about life can be healing to some of trauma's impact on our bodies, it can bolster our immune systems, it can encourage our hearts and connect us relationally. It can be a form of coming home to ourselves.
If you would like support in learning more tools to help your body, please feel free to reach out here. I would be honored to help.