Therapy is like, so hot right now. While it may have taken global political unrest and a pandemic to stir us into a frenzy, normalize mental health issues, and prioritize our emotional wellness, we’ll take it however we can get it. And while so many of us have experienced the benefits of talk therapy, somatic modalities like EFT are extremely applicable ways we can self-regulate and heal from trauma using our bodies and sensations to reprogram the way we think or respond to a feeling. Here are a few effective ways to connect to our own bodies and heal.
Dancing helps to move energy through your body, whether the feeling is bliss, joy, tension, stress, sadness, and even grief—but don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be a carefully choreographed eight-count. Literally jumping around, flailing, or wiggling fluidly has the power to shift stagnated energy that is holding you back, and move it out. Studies suggest that movement such as dance can even help treat psychiatric disturbances.
Not only does focusing on the breath allow someone to sink into the present moment and feel how something so typically voluntary actually feels in their body, but different lengths, depths, and holds of in and out breaths can regulate our heart rate, change our brain waves, and reduce symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, and anger.
Somatic visualization connects your body and mind in a way that allows you to be present in the moment and space you reside in, and evoke curiosity and compassion for yourself and your environment without harsh judgment. Think—focusing on sensations, rather than feelings. Examples of somatic visualization: while sitting or lying in a comfortable position, imagine being cleansed in healing light, being filled with warm, beautiful color, or fulfilling a lifelong wish or dream—anything that transports your mind while still being connected to your physical body.
This mode is all about reclaiming control over our emotional responses following the trauma of an experience in which we were not in control. A therapist is typically needed for this, in order to help guide someone through a memory and encourage them to act out physically and/or vocally how they might have wanted to defend themselves or stop this kind of action now. Oftentimes this gives the experiencer a feeling of triumph in order to move past these fears and feelings that hold them back.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which requires someone to recount a traumatic event while simultaneously focusing on external stimuli, using both sight and touch. It got the EM in EMDR, because oftentimes a therapist will direct lateral movements of the eyes during this technique, but many other stimuli, like tapping oneself, stroking the skin, or even audio stimuli can be used to disarm the traumatic recollection and remove it from the forefront of the psyche, changing fear and trauma responses to non-traumatic experiences.