When you were watching TV last Sunday night and heard that President Obama had a national security announcement, did you notice what was happening in your body?
For instance did your palms begin to sweat, or did your shoulders get tight or did your thoughts begin to race with scary scenarios?
With the amount of traumatic information we watch, read and listen to everyday we are exposed to more threatening events and that means our bodies never stop working to anticipate, avoid and overcome their effects. Yet most of the time we are not even aware of what is happening to our body.
As a body centered therapist and author of What's Your Body Telling You? I hear from many people about how world events are hurting their body. For instance, watching the planes hit the World Trade Center over and over (some say they saw that image 100 or more times) caused many people to get sick, depressed and even yell at their spouses and kids for no reason. That's because watching the tragedy so many times caused even more stress to enter their bodies.
Your body, as a whole, records and responds to every experience in specific patterns. In addition to the cognitive and emotional responses of which you are aware (sometimes to the point of distraction) your body also undergoes a physiological response and all of these responses are neurologically "mapped" throughout your body as a memory.
Traumatic experiences are accompanied by a highly charged state of emotion; specific hormones, or neuropeptides that act as messenger molecules are released into the body alongside the memory as it is being stored. In a sense, traumatic experiences are placed in storage containers comprised of emotion-linked chemicals in your body and brain. When you get startled or frightened, your body automatically protects itself by secreting a shot of adrenaline that increases your heart rate and your respiratory rate. These same physiological responses accompany your reactive response to an event that happens later if it triggers a memory of the earlier, similar circumstance.
The Solution- Increase your Body Intelligence and Awareness
The body wants and needs to express the active physical defenses you had to override when the trauma occurred so it doesn't back up and cause you health and psychological issues.
Here are some tips to help you take in less stress in your body from observing traumatic events.