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.
TRE for Chronic Stress & Tension
Healing at this level - the nervous system - is the key to healing our species,
How to release chronic stress & tensions?
The first thing to know is that the root for chronic stress actually sits in the body. It is simply a dysregulation in the Autonomic Nervous System. So, in order to effectively work with it, we need to work with the body.
I use two different methods; TRE®, the abbreviation for Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises, founded by Dr. David Berceli , and a synthesis of Irene Lyon's and Dr. Peter A. Levine's work that I call Somatic Release.
TRE® works directly with the muscle tissue in a non-invasive way and through this accesses the nervous system and the brainstem. Somatic Therapy uses the felt sense of the body to access the client's physiology.
Trauma & Tension Releasing Exercises - TRE
The human body is genetically designed to experience, endure, survive and evolve through the experience of traumatic events. This is what ensures the survival and evolution of humans as a species on this planet.
TRE® is an innovative set of exercises that help the body release deep muscular patterns of stress, tension, and trauma. The exercises safely activate a natural reflex mechanism in the body that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. TRE® aims to rid the body of held tension and to bring the body back to a natural balance and relaxation.
TRE® can easily be learned and is able to facilitate and promote the body’s and the psyche’s return to balance in a very easy and quick manner. The technique is based on the fundamental idea that stress, tension, and trauma are both psychological and physical, and is fully backed by scientific research. After doing TRE®, many people report feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Since this internal physiological release mechanism in the muscles is part of our natural behavior as humans, everyone can benefit from TRE®. It increases the resiliency of the body because it causes deep relaxation that naturally reduces stress levels. It can release emotions ranging from mild upset to severe anxiety whether it is caused by work stress, excessive worry, conflict in relationships, physical stresses or traumas from accidents.
TRE® cultivates self-regulation, self-healing processes, and self-empowerment. It is designed as a self-help tool that can be used throughout one's life as a maintenance tool as well as a remedy for acute situations.
The reason why TRE® is fast becoming such an indispensable tool is that a dysfunction of the nervous system due to held tension caused by traumatic events creates an imbalance between the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system. This dysfunction is both physiological as well as psychological. It causes the neurological, biochemical and anatomical make- up, structure and reactions within the body to change, alter and define much of the personality; in fact, our personality is very much affected by trauma. TRE® will be a great aid in the restoration of who we really are, so we can be more alive, free and natural, able to live our highest potential.
Benefits of using TRE®
Easily learned and in many cases shows immediate results
Allows tensions to be released and works even in acute situations
Activates the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system
Integrates easily into a daily routine
Restores safety and relaxation in the body thereby promoting a sense of wellbeing
Integrates well with any other therapy or treatment modality
Has no negative side effects
Here is a short video about TRE
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.
True human enlightenment will happen when all human beings on this planet have regulated their nervous systems.
Peter A. Levine