Stressed Woman

Chronic Stress & Tension

What's the cause of chronic stress & tension?

Chronic stress and tension are often the result of the autonomic nervous system being in 'overdrive'. And how did this overdrive of the nervous system come about? Good question.

 

When we have experiences that exceed our window of tolerance survival strategies such as flight, fight or freeze are triggered. This survival mechanism is controlled by the brain stem (which regulates all automatic processes in the body such as digestion, respiration, etc.) and switches on automatically and instinctively in threatening situations. This can not be stopped by thought processes and cognitive decisions, and what constitutes a threatening situation is different from person to person and depends on the environment we grew up in.

If the stress response of the autonomic nervous system such as flight, fight or freezing gets triggered frequently over a period of time it is in many cases inevitable that we get stuck in the biochemical cocktail of fight/flight/freeze, and this shows up in increased Adrenaline and Cortisol levels, but also in chronically tense muscles and chronic stress.

As I often tell my students, the two most important phrases in therapy, as in yoga, are “Notice that” and What happens next?” Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than with fear, everything shifts.

Bessel van der Kolk

Confetti Party
Somatic Release

Somatic Release is a guided inquiry into the presenting issue using the felt sense of the body to release trauma, chronic tension, and tension without psychological analysis.

 

One important element of Somatic Release is "pendulation", the movement between regulation and dysregulation. This process helps you to move to a state where your nervous system becomes slightly dysregulated (i.e. is aroused or frozen, demonstrated by physical symptoms such as pain or numbness) and then guides you to return to a state of regulation. Another very important element in Somatic Release is "titration", a method which guides the client to carefully dip into the activated state in very small doses only, and is then guided back to safety ("resourcing"). The goal is to allow you to resolve the physical and mental difficulties caused by the trauma carefully and safely, in a way that can be integrated by your nervous system, and thereby enable you to respond appropriately to everyday situations.

 

I also work with "resources", which are defined as anything that helps your autonomic nervous system return to a regulated state. This might be the memory of someone close you, a physical item that might ground you in the present moment, or other supportive elements that minimize distress. In the face of arousal, "discharge" is facilitated to allow your body to return to a regulated state. Discharge may be in the form of tears, a warm sensation, body movement, the ability to breathe easily again, or other responses, which demonstrate the autonomic nervous system returning to its baseline. The intention of this process is to reinforce your inherent capacity to self-regulate.

 

At all times in this process, you determine where the journey goes, while I hold the space for you, guide you in your inquiry and provide a safe and loving container that allows you to let go.