Some of our readers have been on a mental health journey of healing, growing, and receiving support for years. In contrast, others have only recently gotten curious about mental health. One primary way to grow in mental health awareness is by checking in with yourself and noticing what is going on in your beautiful physical frame. In other words: “What is your body telling you?” Fascinatingly enough, our bodies are constantly communicating with us. Therefore, the key to mental health awareness and body awareness is to take the time to listen to and validate what your body is saying in the present moment.

Hypoarousal, Hyperarousal, & Safety

Our bodies can experience a range of emotions and physiological sensations, and there are about three different stages that our bodies can experience, short or long-term. Hypoarousal is when our bodies perceive a life threat and our bodies freeze. At this stage, we may experience numbness as our bodies conserve energy, dissociation, helplessness, hopelessness, and the underlying sense of preparing for death as we feel trapped. The body is communicating “I can’t” regarding the life threat and responding in a way that will bring about the least amount of pain (the most safety) in the given moment.

Hyperarousal is when our brains perceive danger, and our bodies respond with a fight (move towards) or flight (move away) response. Both hyperarousal responses engage the psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is in the lower lumbar region of the spine and extends down through the pelvis to the femur. It is the only muscle that connects our upper and lower body. During this stage, the body is sizing up the threat to decide either “I can beat this” or “I can get away from this.”

Safety is when our bodies reach a state of regulation, which is not only logically recognizing that we are safe, but the body understanding through body movement and sensations that there is true safety.

Past Trauma and Implicit Memory Held in the Present

So what is trauma? Simply put, trauma is when our bodies are physiologically overwhelmed and unable to reach a regulated state of safety. We may not remember details about a past trauma, yet our bodies have stored memory of the event or information. When our bodies become activated or triggered, our physiological sensations may reflect a similar response to what we had experienced in the past. Suppose we do not reach a state of regulation after trauma? In that case, it is also possible that we will remain in hyperarousal or hypoarousal activation, leading to physical, emotional, and mental fatigue and burnout.

Growing in Self Trust and Body Validation

Healing from trauma is recognizing what caused the overwhelming physiological response and getting to a place of safety within your body. The healing journey takes curiosity and a listening ear to address what our bodies tell us. For some, dissociation and “feeling nothing” may be the present reality of the bodily experience. However, even noticing this is a fundamental process of listening to what our bodies tell us about our present experience. Listening to what your body is saying and validating your body’s past and current experiences is a practical step toward mental health awareness.

Book an appointment or schedule a free 15-minute consultation, and we can help you navigate your trauma recovery journey.

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