TRAUMA, HEALTH, HEALING, AND RESILIANCE
Trauma responses are paradoxically a natural part of the healing process.
If we experience an overwhelming stress or disturbance to our neurological system or to our physical bodies (or to both), or move too extremely away from our normal state of homeostasis when, or after, we experience or witness stressful events such as a forced migration, a natural disaster, a critical accident, war, abuse, ongoing tensions, extreme violence, or any other overwhelming occurrence, the reactions that are created in our bodies and minds are our natural attempts to help us recover, regain homeostasis, and prevent further damage.
Sometimes, however, our bodies and minds can get stuck in a state of inflammatory response to traumatic events or experiences for far longer than is required for us to escape from danger or even to effectively heal, which can include many years after our traumatic experience or event has passed. This can cause us to remain in such a heightened state of overprotection and arousal that we begin to counterproductively create damage to our physical, psychological, and social health and well-being, doing the opposite of effectively accomplishing our goal of healing as our bodies and minds as intended.
Definition of Health
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This state is defined by possessing a healthy body, adequate nutrition, and a safe environment in which one’s biological functions can be effectively regulated and maintained.
This is “[a] state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.” -American Heritage Dictionary
“Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.” -United States Institute of Peace
Health is also a state that requires freedom from violence of all levels, from physical violence, to the absence of psychological abuse and discrimination in the form of racism, sexism, and so forth.
Trauma, Toxic Stress and Adversity
It is obvious from collective research at this point, that healthy conditions are not always present in some families, relationships, or societies, which is why, for many, going about their normal day-to-day experience can often be a traumatizing experience in and of itself.
This is especially true for many who have been experiencing trauma since childhood.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and Health
-Arizona Trauma Institute
With these understandings in mind, however, it is also clear that in order for individuals to function optimally in their lives and societies, all that is required is for them to get a set of conditions in place that will create a healthy environment in which they can recover and thrive.
Since many are unable to fully find that healthy environment externally, the good news is that this space can start within. There are innate resources that we all possess in our bodies and psyches that enable us to heal and recover from any imbalance that we may experience after being impacted by trauma, adversity, or toxic stress that may compromise our health in some way. All we have to do is to identify and tap into these resources and use them effectively toward our positive movement forward. My work is to support you in this process.
Healing and Resilience
Resilience, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is:
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress 2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Resilience is about coming back to balance and wholeness after experiencing a physical, emotional, social, or mental disturbance of some kind, and is defined by our ability to recover, heal, and move forward from adverse events and experiences. It is a skill that everyone has the capacity to develop or strengthen in some way.
What Does This Mean For Those Who Have Experienced Trauma, Adversity, or Toxic Stress Of Any Kind?
All of our modern science and understandings tell us that everyone can heal after trauma, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem.
Coaching, yoga, and meditation can all help with accomplishing this goal if one is willing to do the work that is required to do so.
These healing modalities are powerful tools for supporting health and recovery from traumatic events and toxic stress while simultaneously increasing our overall resilience and general well-being in life.