Stress Resilience

Increasing Stress Resilience

Unresolved past difficult experiences may leave us with internal stress. The resulting physiological imprints of trauma leaves us feeling insecure, overwhelmed, or out of control, weakening stress resilience.

Right now, in regards to this trauma-based stress, you have a lot more control than you think you do. Increasing stress resilience is available in this moment by orienting to our surroundings in the here-and-now. If we can actively acknowledge that the environment is safe, collaborating with our physiology, there may be a sense of settling just a little bit more into our chair. This orienting response is the beginning to increasing our stress resilience, and therefore, a proactive differentiation from the original physiological event.

Orienting is the Key to Increasing Stress Resilience.

As we look around and notice our environment, making room for our experience in the present moment, we gain a small sense of control. This simple realization that we are in control enough to look around the room and orient ourselves to safety is the foundation of increasing stress resilience.

This present moment realization resolves stress by separating us from the past, thereby, differentiating past from present through awareness. Orienting toward the safety available right now will resolve the stress-limiting internal bracing patterns.

Unaddressed memory of a traumatic event leaves behind chronic patterns (incomplete action plans sometimes requiring birth trauma renegotiation) in the tissue, viscera, and muscles of the body. The drive to complete the thwarted survival reflex coupled with a fear-based inhibition of the reflex, taxes capacity for stress resilience. It’s like having a foot on the gas and brake at the same time. Chronic stress results. Adding more complexity, awareness of this double-bind gets lost in the normalized rush of a fast-paced, individualistic society.

The body resolves stressful experience through its own innate healing rhythms. When this rhythm has become overwhelmed by traumatic experience it is left in a disharmonious state. It is the nature of this disharmony that leads us to believe things are spinning far more out of control than they really are. When we are out of control our survival physiology is engaged. Using this more cortisol oriented function of the body is like struggling to keep ourselves above water. It doesn’t do much for our sense of efficacy, agency, or confidence.

The body is immensely self-regulating in its nature, not needing a great intervention in order to get back into balance. It is always moving towards balance, and needs only simple interventions to rekindle the body’s ever increasing capacity for self-regulation. It is this non-cognitive allowance of stress regulation that increases stress resilience.

Through resourcing and supporting the internal organic intelligence of the body to orient, we can resolve stress and tension, increasing stress resilience.

No matter where we are along the trauma spectrum, our greatest tool in healing is in collaborating with our physiology’s inherent skill. This skill is to orient to the here-and-now. Simply allowing our eyes to go wherever they want, to look around and orient ourselves in the actual safety of this moment, thereby gives our orienting physiology time to breathe and differentiate past from present.

Returning to homeostasis
The somatic regulation of stress is inherent in our physiology. Such as breathing, blood circulation, and digestive peristalsis. Animals in the wild, moving through perhaps extreme survival stress, have two main autonomic physiological phases important to our evolutionary inheritance. Charge and Discharge. This is also known as sympathetic and parasympathetic, or activation and deactivation. When animals are faced with stress, the sympathetic charge is fired, and if they get away or if there is no threat, is followed by a parasympathetic discharge. Active orientation to the immediate environment, assuring the absence of threat and return to safety, completes the initiated mobilization of survival energy. The body physiology therefore returns to homeostasis. Rest and relaxation is reestablished. The anxiety is resolved, gone, and the body is at ease.

Anxiety and Stress and Survival Energies
However, if this somatic response to extreme survival stress, to fight or flee, is inhibited from achieving it’s goal, such as in fighting back, than the sympathetic charge is not followed by parasympathetic discharge or orientation to safety. The activation against threat remains bound up inside the core nervous system functions of the body as accumulative stress—anxiety, a cycle which erodes stress resilience. Without rebound of the parasympathetic to balance out the activated processes to the specific threat, stress remains in active constellation around the incomplete survival response. This hinders our potency in other biological functions. Sensitivity to associative elements of the original stress creates triggers, further stressing and obscuring the original past event from the present event. Accumulative stress producing associations sensitize the nervous system to the stress of ordinary daily life, further taxing an already taxed system.

Anxiety and stress sensitize us to memories of trauma, and easily triggered subtle states of dissociation. Somatic Experiencing fine tunes our awareness to attune with and carefully discharge the stuck survival energies at the source of somatic flashbacks.

Returning carefully to the original desires of the subtle body responses to survival stress, we are able to slow down the desire and fill in the gaps of the missing survival based resources. Re-experiencing the trauma related sensations and affects with new tools, and integrating conscious awareness with dissociated memory states, discharges the trapped survival energies.

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