How Stress impacts on your Mind and Body. How Somatics can help.Heidi Hadley
At some point in your life you will suffer with stress and anxiety. At times, events can be very difficult and the stress can last for a long time. When you do suffer with stress, many neurophysiological changes happen. In today’s blog we will look at how stress can affect your neurophysiology and how Somatics can help.
The Effects of Stress
As a Clinical Somatics Educator, I will often see the effects of stress within a clinical session or a movement class. Stress can impact greatly on a client’s way of interpreting and following through with cues. The reason for this is due to chronic stress creating damaging hormones known collectively as Glucocorticoids. These hormones are secreted by the adrenal glands and are really nasty characters when boat loads of the hormones are shipped into your Central Nervous System (CNS).
Glucocorticoids have a fondness for searching out cells within the hippocampus. The hippocampus is really important for learning and processing information.
What does the Hippocampus do? How does stress affect it?
Hippocampus: This area enables the brain to turn short term memories into long term memories. It is crucial in enabling us to retain a sense of time and place, helping us to form a coherent sense of self. When we recall an event or traumatic event, we are using the hippocampus. When working with clients I often refer to this area as the brain’s filing cabinet of stored memories. When clients pandiculate and allow their central nervous system to switch from a flight/flight/feign stress response to a rest and digest, they often notice that their mind knows it can start to truly relax. Whilst releasing stored trauma or repressed emotion within their mind and body, their ‘filing cabinet’ may open and release feelings and responses. I encourage the client to allow this to happen and I create space for them, as this is a form of emotional pandiculation or release. Dis-empowering beliefs or comments made by people over the years can store in this region. So the choice of my words can further impress a dis-empowering belief such as “your back is a solid as a rock” or “this may cause pain when you move it.” Instead when I cue my clients I encourage them by asking them, “can you___?” or “notice ____ as you move___.” By using the correct wording, I can help shift a client’s mindset to start challenging their long held beliefs.
However when glucocorticoids target cells within the hippocampus, they create a destructive disconnect, affecting the synaptic webbing (neural connections within the brain) of precious memories. During times of severe stress, people often find that there are black spots in their memory bank. They cannot recall certain parts of a traumatic period of time. This is due to destructive actions created by glucocorticoids during catastrophic stress, leading to Amnesia. Forgetfulness is still a rather debilitating reaction to glucorticoids from less severe stress events. These hormones will also put a stop to the production of new hippocampal cells being created. Chronic stress may lead to depression due to the destruction and deregulation of thought processes, including memory, language, reasoning, emotional intelligence, interoception (internal awareness) and proprioception (spatial awareness). So addressing how the brain and body are working is imperative to creating improved health and wellbeing.
Stress and Speech.
One area which can be affected by stress and trauma is the speech area known as Broca’s area. If the hippocampus cells are destroyed by chronic stress, Broca’s area, the premotor area and the primary motor area will also be affected. These areas coordinate contractions involved with swallowing, breathing and speech to enable you to speak your thoughts. Continually gulping and keeping quiet during stressful periods with dis-empowering thoughts such as “just keep the peace” or “don’t rock the boat” creates repressed emotion. The tightness and tension within the shoulders and neck continues to create muscle rigidity and with that comes pain. These patterns of stress response link up with regions such as the Broca’s area and contribute towards people feeling they have no voice to speak up. Knowing this information, It has allowed me to show empathy and help understand that when working with clients, they don’t have to explain in detail how they are feeling. Rather by encouraging them to sense and feel what is happening on a visceral or somatic level, it will help them to become reacquainted with themselves again. After all for a long time, they have lived in a stress response and been hypervigilant, not fully experiencing what it feels like to truly relax your mind and body.
When I encourage a client to change the language in their head and start to take control of their health and well being with Somatics, it will help towards reducing their stress levels, increase prefrontal cortex activity and encourage the birth and growth of hippocampal cells (neurogenesis). Would you like to learn how Somatics Movement, Mindfulness and Mindset principles can help reduce pain, improve posture, increase mobility and help you develop Mindfulness? To learn these skills in the comfort and privacy of your own home, at a time that suits you, check out The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program at www.TotalSomatics.com.
During your time online with the Total Somatics’ program, I am available via email or skype if you have further questions specific to you.
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I look forward to teaching you these amazing skills.
Heidi Hadley xx