One of the unfortunate realities of trauma and spending time in survival mode is that self-care for our body is often the first thing to go. We aren’t talking about body scrubs and chocolates. We mean slowing down, taking inventory of what’s tight, what’s stiff, what’s in pain, and helping those areas feel better. This type of awareness just doesn’t happen when you are walking on eggshells, censoring every move, and trying to anticipate the next toxic storm. During and after trauma, we spend most of our time in our heads, engaging in thought patterns that helped us survive but are difficult to give up once the danger has passed. Additionally, if our bodies have been the target of abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), our relationship with our bodies can become even more disconnected. We may even learn to ignore or not trust our body.
Fortunately, there are many coping skills we can use to help us bring back our awareness of and love for our bodies. Utilizing these helpful tools can help create within us a deeper sense of self-love and attunement to our body’s needs.
Body-Scan or Walking Meditation
We see you cringing. Stay with us here. Yes, meditating can be intimidating. The idea of sitting in silence for a determined amount of time is enough to make most people wriggle out of their skin. Fortunately, the types of meditation we are referring to, body-scan or walking meditations, are engaging and active, meaning you won’t be flooded with thoughts like ‘when will this damn thing be over already?’ and ‘am I sure the timer was set properly?’ Your brain and body will be active and guided the entire time. Here are a few of our faves…
Compassionate Body-Scan 20-minute Guided Meditation
Guided Meditation for Mindful Walking
Physical Activity & Movement
Have you ever noticed how clear your head can feel after a good work out? Exercising regularly allows your body an opportunity to flush out the neurotransmitters and other bodily chemicals we create when we are stressed. It also improves memory, decreases inflammation, and stabilizes mood and sleep patterns.
But what kind of exercise is best? This question poses the perfect opportunity for YOU to ask your body what it feels like doing today. A good run, vigorous HIIT workout, or gentle yoga are all loaded with mental health benefits, whether for 10 minutes or 60 minutes. The important thing is being present and connected to your body and honoring its strength and resilience. Love your body in all its beauty as it is. Break a sweat doing something that makes you light up to help your mind and body re-establish their connection to one another.
Daily Body Check-In
Encourage your brain to have awareness of your body in small ways every day. Here's where to start...
Set a timer for various times throughout the day (maybe every 2-4 hours). When the timer goes off, ask yourself the following questions…
-How am I feeling right now?
-What is my body experiencing right now? Am I holding tension in any areas?
Any areas where I’m feeling lighter?
-What are my senses experiencing? What do I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Reach out to touch something and
notice how it feels.
All of these questions will help you reacquaint your body and mind with the present moment, and with each other.
Your relationship with your body is a lifelong one. Like any relationship, it needs care and attention to make it last. Make it a priority. Choose yourself. Love your body. And if you have bumps or need support along the way? Resilient Rebound is here for you. Check out our other resources, such as our Sex & Intimacy Workbook, for continued guidance on reaffirming your relationship with your body.