Traumatic stress is one of the most common reactions to distress. These reactions are believed to be held in the body as well as the mind. Trauma releasing exercises TRE® is a new way to release stress and control the effects of trauma.
This article shall continue our discussion of traumatic stress and TRE® plus outline the benefits of tremoring to those who perform it.
A Recap of Traumatic Stress
Traumatic stress is a process where a person’s resources are lost or threatened beyond their ability to defend themselves against the source of the threats or to recover from resource losses (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1997).
That relatively long explanation means that when a person becomes overwhelmed by a threat to themselves where they cannot protect themselves (such as childhood sexual abuse) or their stuff (such as loss of a home in a fire).
What occurs is that our bodies, as Bessel van der Kolk so aptly put it, keeps the score and remembers the way we felt. All the stress in our muscles, our racing heartbeat, and the fight or flight response are remembered by our bodies and may reoccur as panic attacks, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Adverse events cause traumatic stress and are a response to adverse factors that may occur in our lives. Below are only a few negative events that can occur in either children or adults:
- Sexual or physical abuse or assault
- Exposure to combat or war zone
- An unexpected death
- House fires
- Severe medical events
- Witnessing death
- Domestic violence
- Mass violence
Traumatic stress can harm one’s health and make life miserable not only when it occurs but for a lifetime if not treated.
The Neurodynamic of Traumatic Stress
The tern neuroplasticity is referring to the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt. All humans have survival-based coping strategies that emerge when facing a threat and are rooted in the biological need to survive life-threatening situations. Neuroplasticity is also vital to cope with the aftermath of trauma. These abilities are formed during childhood and are embedded in neural networks functioning outside of consciousness.
When traumatic stress overwhelms a child, their brain responds by pushing the memory of the event into the body to escape in their mind. Often the memories will resurface and intrude into the present when they have become adults presenting as unsettling thoughts, emotions, sensory memories, body memories, or flashbacks. These adult survivors associate self-protection to triggers today, and their survival strategies, such as dissociation, are activated.
To conquer our brain and bodily responses to stress and its aftermath, TRE® uses muscle stretch reflexes, involuntary contractions of muscles induced by quick stretches, and tremoring to release troublesome tension and stress.
Research, conducted by Dr. Berceli (the inventor of TRE®) in 2009, utilized sixty-one students to discover if indeed trauma releasing exercises worked. His findings are below.
“After performing the exercise routine six times over a two-week period, the STAI X-1 showed a significant reduction in anxiety-present and an increase in anxiety-absent in both the subscale and total scores. The Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data showed changes in the desired direction. These results suggest that these tremors might have therapeutic values for post-stressor recovery.”
Although his sample size was small, what Dr. Berceli found is eye-opening and should induce others to research this potential mental health breakthrough.
The Benefits of TRE®
When one thinks of relieving traumatic stress, the last thing one might think about is shaking. However, shaking is a legitimate modality for relieving the effects of stressful events and tension. Shaking makes sense because during or immediately after a traumatic event, our body shakes to restore itself to equilibrium after a terrible shock. During this process, some of the memories of the events become trapped and are not removed properly by the shaking.
Learning to shake on purpose effectively manages one’s stressors and restoring balance to the body and mind.
Shaking, otherwise known as tension and trauma release exercises (TRE®), uses a series of movements that stretch and lightly fatigue the muscles to induce a natural tremor response. The tremor releases deep muscular patterns of stress and tension related to stressful events and soothes the nervous system.
The benefits of TRE® are as follows:
- Less worry and anxiety
- Better sleep
- Reduced muscle and back pain
- Reductions in the symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD
- Decreases symptoms of vicarious trauma
- Greater emotional resiliency
- Relief from some chronic medical conditions
Because a person who performs TRE® feels better, they may notice a better marital relationship and less stress at work.
Traumatic stress is a natural reaction to demands or threats to your life or things. People under traumatic stress release the stress hormone cortisol into their bloodstreams that allows them to respond quickly. However, when experienced in higher than normal quantities for long periods, cortisol is highly damaging to the brain and the body.
Traumatic stress can kill you as there is hardly any disease that does not play a role. Stress is a powerful self-destructive tool that will end your life prematurely if it is not managed. Trauma releasing exercises may, in other words, be a first-grade ticket to better health and longer life.
Trauma releasing exercises use tremoring and flexing to release pent-up stress trapped in your body and mind for decades.
While TRE® is not a cure for such stress-caused diagnoses as complex post-traumatic stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, many find it makes their travels down the road less taken to healing easier.
“Pain is a pesky part of being human; I’ve learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can’t be escaped. But then, I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.” ~ C. JoyBell C.
Aspinwall, L. G., & Taylor, S. G. (1997). A stitch in time: Self-regulation and proactive coping. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 417–436
Berceli, D. (2009). Evaluating the effects of stress reduction exercises employing mild tremors: a pilot study. Master’s thesis. Phoenix (AZ): Arizona State University. Retrieved from: https://traumaprevention.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Berceli.2009.pdf
If you or a loved one live in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services, including:
All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up; we will be glad to help you. If you cannot afford to pay, go to www.cptsdfoundation.org/scholarship to apply for aid. We only wish to serve you.