When Does Anxiety, Stress, Pain & Illness Begin? Touching in to Your Stress Activation Cycle & Noticing Deeply Held Sensations in Your Body.

April 25, 2019

“It is not the potential stressor itself but how you perceive it and then how you handle it (in your body and mind) that will determine whether or not it will lead to stress.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

There is a state in which you are fully alive, authentic, and spontaneous. You are open to all your feelings and connected to your strength and your truth. You are not afraid to know anything about yourself or about others. You seek out and value the diverse perspectives we all bring, and you actualize your creativity and meet life in all its possibilities. In this state you are a force of nature, a presence that helps life’s greatest potential to emerge. This is what can happen when working deep within the body with Somatic Experiencing (SE) and Somatic Inquiry.

Each person works with what feels overwhelming, stuck, conflicted, and you will begin to open to the energy of life. You are encouraged to bring your voice, your energy, to take risks, and to be emotionally honest. And yet, we will go at a pace that feels best for you.

Take back your life and live with confidence in your body.

Our unconscious habits of chronic tightness in the body, repetitive thinking patterns and the effects of stress are not as easy to change as they seem – we’ve all experienced trauma – and the effects of trauma may keep us feeling that we are spinning our wheels, unable to rid ourselves of painful feelings and emotions that we’ve may have had for most of our lives. They feel familiar and like they will always be here – we are however, not actually doomed to stay the same.

Stress is a response to a threat of some kind. Somatic inquiry is a way to get to know your own nervous system and your stress response activation cycle. What is unresolved from your past that is causing us stress now? We can use Somatic Experiencing (SE), Trauma Touch work and Somatic Inquiry to heal our nervous system and allow space for more ease and calm. 

We are complex systems and we are also quite simple. The practice of paying attention to our body can have a profound effect on us, so we can begin to pay attention and notice sensations or lack of sensation in our body. First, we pay attention together, and after some time, you can begin to notice your sensations and stress activation cycle on your own. Then, we can build strength and resilience. Our perception of threat becomes more realistic and present moment based. We heal. We have more space within us to enjoy our lives.

At this point, we can be curious – what is our personal stress activation cycle – and when does stress, anxiety and illness begin within us – how do we know?

We’ve all experienced the fight-or-flight stress response.

So, when is stress just a normal part of life — something we all just need to deal with — and when does it become so problematic that it sets the stage for disease? Part of the answer depends on how we respond to stress, the scientists say, and on our own internal perceptions about how much stress we’re feeling.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and someone jumps out and gives you a scare. What happens? Your heart rate increases and your blood pressure climbs. You have that immediate activation. In the short term, this temporary response is good. It gives you what you need to flee or take action.

The problem comes if you start to experience these stress response “activations” even when there’s not an imminent threat.

When people have chronic stress responses that are stuck on high, the nervous system is being activated at all the wrong times. For instance, those with PTSD can get a very exaggerated stress responses just thinking about something that happened in the past.

People who experience chronic stress seem to be at highest risk of health problems.”Over the long term, repeated, persistent [stress] responses will activate the immune system and contribute to inflammation,” says Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin, a physician and professor of medicine at McGill University. He says inflammation can set the stage for atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to your heart and body. When the arteries narrow, this limits blood flow — increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.

When a body perceives a crisis, survival mode or the sympathetic nervous system takes over. This in contrast to the parasympathetic nervous system which induces us to a calm, relaxed mode. These two systems make up the automatic nervous system.

When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, heart rate and blood pressure are accelerated, blood flow becomes centralized to equip the body for movement, the digestive system slows, adrenaline is released, and the brain becomes inhibited. The four possible responses in survival mode are fight, flight or freeze.

Fight: The person yelling at a driver while on the road, is a good example of this response. The automatic response is to go into attack mode and go after anyone who upsets their equilibrium. Sometimes the response escalates into other abusive behavior such as hitting, throwing things, intimidating, making threatening remarks or asserting undue authority. Fighters try to feel better by taking charge of the situation.

Flight: A person running away from a car accident was fleeing. Instead of engaging, they run away to avoid having to deal with the crisis. This response is often mistaken as a sign of “not caring”. But that is not the case – this is a getaway to regroup and process what has happened.

Freeze: A driver in the car who could not speak and was not injured, was frozen from the event. Often when a person freezes, they are unable to move, speak, or react. They have the “deer in the headlights” look. This sometimes escalates into a prolonged silence for days until the person can regroup and speak again. For those on the receiving end, it can feel like they are being abandoned.

The problem is that when a person is already exhausted, stressed, or has another traumatic moment prior to this current response, the nervous system goes into overdrive. It takes anywhere from 36-72 hours for a person to recover from one sympathetic nervous system activation. Each new event restarts the clock.

You may have learned how to suppress and disown your true feelings – putting on a front for the world to see; and this self-denial manifests itself as resentment, isolation, and self-loathing.

No two people are the same. Even twins have different experiences of life. Therefore each person has unique needs in therapy. An integrative approach allows the therapy to be organized to fit you, rather than the you needing to fit into a set way of doing things.

Discovering somatic (body-centered) psychotherapy, trauma touch work and energetic therapy introduced a whole new way of being in my own body. Somatic psychotherapy recognizes that the body is an integral part of our life experience. In fact, somatic therapists recognize that the body can sometimes get stuck in ways of being that perpetuate stress, anxiety, depression and the effects of trauma.

Our bodies literally form to our life experience. A common phrase in somatic circles is “the issues are in the tissues.” Without including the body in the therapy process, we miss out on shifting patterns at this level, and so very often the system eventually just shifts back. I discovered for myself just how dysregulated my own system was due to intergenerational trauma and my own innate sensitivity to the world around me. 

Uncover the barriers preventing you from feeling joy deeply in the body. Trust your body’s healing journey – your body wants to heal itself.

The experience of a peaceful and content relationship with yourself is your birthright, and rewarding relationships with others is inherent in that promise. We can reach for that promise together as I listen to your experience, notice your bodily sensations, encourage your exploration & respond with empathy. Fear, anxiety, grief, & doubt can block or constrict your self-expression.

Those who do this work are able to:

  • move beyond their defensive patterns into an expanded field of possibility
  • learn how struggles in current relationships may be tied to the past family trauma
  • feel into a body-focused process to release resentment, pain, stress patterns and grief
  • step out of seemingly intractable patterns
  • attune to the resonance of life-force
  • harness the power of your ancestors

This work is an offering to a more expansive sense of self by relieving you of the burden of worn out patterns which no longer serve you. With a little courage and support you can expect to claim your strengths & wisdom, and develop your resilience in response to life’s challenges. The decision to explore the meanings behind a painful past or a difficult present takes both a commitment and an ally – the therapist who supports you and helps to quiet your self-critical voice. Then we can hear what is true for you, so that you step into the flow of your potential.

Everything is a love story, including our lives–– especially our lives.

If I wait until I am not scared to start my journey, my journey will never start. Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to move in the face of it. This is your self-love journey and it starts now.

I have 2 openings for new clients at this time – I am now scheduling session times for early May.

with love from my heart, Kim xoxoxo
hello@kimcochrane.ca / www.kimcochrane.ca

Deep healing at the level of the nervous system enables you to explore and expand your inner landscape where self – confidence and inner agency reside. When you heal your nervous system, you can more readily access deeper ways of knowing and being that include intuition, imagination, sensuality, and the subtle body of emotions. Get in touch to learn more about working with me – hello@kimcochrane.ca

NEW Offering Somatic Aliveness – a 3-Month Online Program – beginning in May 2019 – access deeply held emotional, physical and relational concerns and focus on what you are hoping for during this program. Starting with a one-hour introductory session, then a 1.5 hour family systems trauma session – to access and heal the roots of inherited family trauma that you are carrying with you and how it affects your health, relationships and work in the present day – then an additional 6 online sessions to help you access deeply held body holding patterns, somatic trauma and emotional patterns and integrating unconscious blocks to help you access your internal, somatic freedom. A total of 6 one-hour sessions, on Skype or Zoom, one 1.5 hour family trauma healing session, and homework to help access internal transformation from anxiety, depression, panic, trauma, stress, eating disorders, relational struggles, chronic illness or health concerns – get in touch to learn more – hello@kimcochrane.ca 

Other Offerings – Family Systems Imprint – 90-minute Session – an in-person or virtual online Zoom session – an opportunity to get to the roots of intergenerational trauma patterns & begin a path towards relational & relationship healing.  Uncover your family dynamics and trauma history – this is an opportunity to strengthen your internal relationship with your mother, father and extended family – in ways that contribute to healing – get in touch to schedule an online or in-person session – hello@kimcochrane.ca / www.kimcochrane.ca

Sessions for Individuals & Couples
an invitation for you – to feel present in your body, to unwind patterns of anxiety, depression, anger, hopelessness, chronic stress & pain, trauma, regulate your nervous system, to cultivate trust in your moment-to-moment experience, your naturally wise heart, and your capacity to connect to yourself, those you love and the love that surrounds us.

Somatic Body Learning & Practice and Somatic Experiencing Trauma Touch sessions are available for you now. Waking you up to the innate wisdom of your body, healing inherited trauma patterns, feeling yourself below the level of thought, and accessing your full beingness in flowing, fluid motion. 

When we can feel ourselves, we are able to detect and understand the sensations and emotions our bodies signal to us – and we can connect with ourselves and others from a place of felt honesty and sensitivity, set better boundaries, and make clearer decisions about our interactions.

I’d love to get to know you – to focus on your body, your mind, your symptoms and the courage it takes to move through shame and fear – along with the interconnection of your body, mind and emotions.

Get in touch to learn more about Family Systems Imprint Sessions & Individual Body-Focused Therapy Sessions, and Trauma Touch work in The Somatic Sanctuary – The Anxiety, Stress & Trauma Restorative Clinic – in-person, online or a mix of the two – and to set up a time to work together:   hello@kimcochrane.ca

The Anxiety, Stress & Trauma Restorative Clinic:
Creating Well-Being Through Nervous System Regulation.
Heal Relational Trauma – Break the Cycle of Inherited Family Trauma.
Nurturing Connection, Restoration & Building Resilience.

Easing the Body ~ Calming the Mind ~ Opening the Heart.
Somatic Experiencing ~ Somatic Practices ~ Trauma Touch ~ Movement.

Virtual, online sessions are available for those who travel regularly, have a busy schedule, live far away from the office, or prefer to work from your own home – hello@kimcochrane.ca

Working together enables everyone who is willing to do the work an opportunity to decrease feelings of anxiety, pain, depression, 
chronic stress, pain or illness – as well decrease the chatter in the
mind, and ground your mind and body with the depth of the intelligence found in the body. Experience lasting somatic transformation and feelings of calm, peace and wholeness – within your own body and within your relationships.

“When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time.”- Rachel Naomi Remen


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