9 Signs Your Body Is Releasing Trauma


Trauma changes the brain and the way the brain responds to a variety of stimuli. As a result, it leaves many people with heightened nervous system responses and other disruptive physical symptoms.

Many trauma survivors don’t realize that their physical discomfort is tied to their trauma. Others may realize it but can’t seem to find more ease and connection in their bodies.

Processing trauma in a therapeutic setting can make a major difference in your mental health, but also your physical well-being. Read on for nine of the major signs your body is releasing trauma.

1. Natural Breathing Patterns

When your nervous system is altered by trauma, it can have a ripple effect on things like your blood pressure and your heart rate. You may also notice one of two changes in your breathing pattern, particularly when faced with a stressful or triggering situation:

  1. You take rapid, shallow breaths using only your chest muscles.
  2. You stop breathing altogether as part of a “freeze” response.

As you process and release trauma, you may notice that this rarely happens anymore. Instead, your breathing feels natural, even when stressed.

2. Less Pain and Tension

Research shows that a traumatic childhood increases the chances of chronic pain in adulthood. This may have to do with the way that muscles respond to a heightened nervous system or an increase in inflammation caused by chronic stress.

As you release trauma and your mental health improves, you may notice a decrease in your typical pain scale. It becomes easier to relax your muscles and you can enjoy movement and exercise with more ease.

3. Increasing Mind-Body Connection

Trauma survivors may go into a state of dissociation in response to triggers. When this dissociative response becomes frequent, they may develop what is known as depersonalization-derealization disorder. This can cause the sensation that:

  • You’re floating outside of your body
  • What’s happening around you isn’t real
  • Your sensations (sight, smell, hearing, etc.) are dulled

Releasing trauma can lead to a stronger mind-body connection. Rather than trying to numb you to your surroundings, your brain and nervous system feel safe enough to experience them.

4. Improved Immunity

When you’re living with unprocessed trauma, that constant state of arousal and high inflammatory response can weaken your immune system. Trauma survivors often report frequent:

  • Illness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Pain

As your body releases trauma, you may start to feel healthier. Your immune system may grow stronger, making it easier to fight off viruses and other sources of poor health.

5. Better Temperature Regulation

Patients in trauma therapy are often surprised to learn that their cold hands and feet stem from their unprocessed trauma. When the nervous system goes into fight-or-flight, blood flow reroutes toward internal organs, causing poor circulation in the extremities. On the flip side, some patients report feeling overheated during states of high arousal.

As you start to heal from your trauma, your nervous system starts to relax. You’re less triggered by your environment, which can also contribute to temperature dysregulation.

6. Quality Sleep

It’s no secret that mental health and sleep go hand in hand. Having high levels of anxiety or depression can disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep (getting less than seven to nine consecutive hours of sleep most nights) can make mental health worsen.

As your body releases trauma, you may find it easier to go to sleep and stay asleep. By processing trauma in therapy, you may also notice a decrease in those stressful or frightening dreams that make sleeping unpleasant. Getting better rest at night makes it much easier to experience restful healing during waking hours.

7. Real-Time Emotional Responses

Was there a time in your life when you couldn’t make sense of the concept that you needed to “feel your feelings” to move through them? Unprocessed trauma puts survivors at a distance from their own emotions because they can seem unsafe, especially when they’re related to the original trauma. When emotions arise, people living with unprocessed trauma may:

  • Dissociate or go into a “freeze” state
  • Experience panic
  • Misdirect or replace their emotions (e.g., expressing anger when the root emotion is sadness or fear)
  • Intellectualize their emotions (i.e., thinking rather than feeling)

As you process trauma, you’ll start to find it much easier to feel your emotions and allow them to pass through you. You may become less reactive when emotions arise.

8. Less Fight-or-Flight

As we’ve mentioned already, trauma disrupts nervous system functioning in many ways. Many trauma survivors are in a frequent or constant state of fight-or-flight, which produces symptoms that include:

  • High heart rate and blood pressure
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Tension and trembling
  • Hypervigilance
  • Feeling on edge
  • Changes in body temperature (real or perceived)

As your body releases stored trauma, you won’t go into fight-or-flight as often. This can create more ease throughout your day, allowing you to enjoy or complete activities that once created fear.

9. Reduced Self-Harm

Some trauma survivors, especially teens and young adults, may feel a desire to self-harm. This can stem from low self-esteem or a sense that they deserve to experience pain and suffering. It can also stem from a disconnect with their bodies caused by the harm done by others in the past.

If you have struggled with self-harm in the past, you may notice the desire decreasing as you process and release trauma through counseling services. Though it can take time, patience, and effort, you can grow to love your body and see it as a part of you that deserves nurturing and care.

Get Closer to These Signs Your Body Is Releasing Trauma

When we think of trauma, we often think of emotional pain, mental distress, and dysfunctional coping mechanisms. What some trauma survivors don’t realize is that trauma also has a very real impact on the body. If you’re ready to experience these signs your body is releasing trauma, it’s time to begin your mental health journey.

Talking Circles Therapy & Wellness takes a holistic approach to trauma counseling. We work hard to pair our clients with licensed therapists and counselors who will understand their struggles and make them feel safe.

Request an appointment and let us know about your therapeutic preferences.

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