Trauma Releasing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression
Trauma is when any person, at any age, goes through an event that they perceive to be life-threatening or severely dangerous to their well-being.
This means that it does not have to be an experience that is life-threatening, but instead only perceived as, consciously or unconsciously, as extremely dangerous.
Table of Contents
- 1. Are There Levels of Trauma?
- 2. Symptoms of Trauma
- 3. Are Trauma and Addiction Connected?
- 4. What is a Trauma Releasing Exercise?
- 5. How Does It Work?
- 6. Animals Do It
- 7. What Issues Do TREs Help?
- 8. Movement Therapy
- 9. What Are the Benefits of TRE?
- 10. Does it actually work
- 11. When Shouldn’t You Use TRE?
- 12. Can You Do It Alone?
- 13. References
This can include violent events such as terrorist attacks, exposure to lots of yelling and anger (especially as a child), exposure to any kind of abuse—whether that be sexual, physical, or emotional—poverty, natural disasters, and many more possibilities.
Additionally, it is important to remember that what may be traumatic for one person may not be for another.
Are There Levels of Trauma?
Yes and no. All trauma is significant to the person who experiences it, but some people have divided trauma into two categories.
The first is a Big T trauma. This trauma stems from events that the general population views as traumatic. Abuse, violence, and death are three examples of what most people would consider Big T trauma.
Small T trauma generally feels bigger to the victim than an observer. Things like being alone at school, losing a job, and moving are all considered to be small T trauma.
It is important to take what the person is feeling seriously, no matter what the trauma is. Most of the adverse effects for those dealing with trauma is in the feeling, not what actually happened.
Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma looks different for everyone, but here are some of the common symptoms for those dealing with trauma:
- Emotional Symptoms
- Grief (all stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression)
- Mood Swings
- Fear, Panic, and Anxiety
- Feeling Antisocial
- Physical Symptoms (may be due to the experience, like an injury, or due to your body processing the experience)
- Muscle tension and pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Any physical injury, such as broken bones, cuts, bruises, etc.
Are Trauma and Addiction Connected?
Yes, trauma and addiction are connected. Research shows that up to two-thirds of all addicts have experienced trauma in their life.
The reason for this is that when someone experiences a traumatic event, they will look for a way to cope with it. If they were not already taught healthy methods of coping, they will most likely turn to unhealthy substances to find an escape.
Often, these substances are alcohol and drugs. Before long, they will find that they are dependent on the escape or release they get from drinking or using their drug of choice.
What is a Trauma Releasing Exercise?
When someone experiences trauma, they must learn how to cope and move past the experience. One method that allows people to do so is to use a trauma releasing exercise or TRE.
A TRE is an exercise that, when done correctly, allows the body to have tremors or vibrate. When a person experiences these sensations, their bodies and muscles are triggered to relax and let go of tension and trauma as the nervous system is slowed down.
TREs must be taught by a professional to ensure that it is done in a safe way, but once a person learns the procedure, they can do it themselves as self-help or coping mechanism.
TREs can be taught to individuals so they can deal with personal traumatic events or entire groups, with shared trauma, at one time (like a military group.)
No matter the size of the group, the source of the trauma, or the cultural background of the people, TREs can be successful as it only relies on a natural response all humans have.
How Does It Work?
When a person suffers from a traumatic event and is under a lot of stress, their body actually physically manifests that stress by tightening up all the muscles.
Trauma releasing exercises aims to combat that physical effect by stretching out the muscles until they are forced to relax and eventually shake.
When people experience physical release, they are better equipped to let go of the emotional stress and process their trauma.
TREs start with the symptoms and then work inwards towards the emotions and the root of the problem. Because of this, TREs are often one of many treatments someone may use to deal with their trauma.
Animals Do It
When animals are afraid, they naturally shake and experience tremors, and people have proven that doing so actually protects them from both physiological and psychological harm.
Humans do it too, to a degree. When a human is afraid, they will often experience their hands or legs shaking or quivering, which is the body’s way of naturally releasing stress.
Unfortunately, the nervous quivering many people experience is not enough to release the stress of significant trauma, so we have to use exercises that, when appropriately done, trigger the natural shaking response and releases stress.
What Issues Do TREs Help?
TREs can be beneficial to a wide range of people who suffer from a wide range of issues. Below you can find a few of the things that TREs can helo treat.
- Abuse of any kind whether that be physical, sexual, or emotional
- Trauma from any experience in childhood or adulthood
- It can help those with autism cope with various situations
- Cancer and chemo
- Chronic Pains and conditions
- Old injuries
- Insomnia and sleep problems
- Mental Disorders and more
TREs are just one way that you can use movement to cope with trauma. Other than the exercises that induce the shaking, some therapies use movement to help release pent up emotions.
Hand swinging therapy (calling Ping Shuai Gong) is basically done by having the person swing their arms back and forth. The goal of this is to aid circulation and rid the body of toxins.
People also do shake therapy all the time without even realizing it. All you have to do is shake or move whatever part of the body that feels tense (a lot of automatically do this when their hands cramp up due to writing.)
The final kind of movement/shaking therapy happens when we return to childhood roots, get on the floor, and crawl around while shaking out all the tension.
What Are the Benefits of TRE?
Everyone’s body responds to things differently, but no matter who you are, there are tons of benefits to trying the various TREs.
Here is a list of some of the most common benefits to TREs:
- The most significant advantage is the release of chronic tension and stress that your muscles undergo.
- You may experience an increase in energy level when you complete trauma releasing exercises regularly.
- You may find freedom from painful symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Your body will feel less achy, and you will be in less pain.
- You will find that you fall asleep better and get better rest
- Improved body circulation
- You may become more flexible
- You will most likely feel more grounded, focused, and have an overall better mood.
Does it Actually Work?
Because the response that people experience when doing trauma releasing exercises is natural, people of all backgrounds and from all over the world can and do find success with it.
TREs allow the body to do what it was naturally meant to do: release tension and stress through shaking. However, it is important to realize that some traumas and disorders can not be treated by TREs alone.
Some people need other kinds of therapy or even medications, so because of this, TREs are sometimes most successful when paired with other methods of treatment.
No matter what you are doing to cope with and treat a disorder, you should talk with a professional to make sure you are doing what is best for you.
When Shouldn’t You Use TRE?
TREs can be used for almost anyone in addition to other kinds of treatment and therapy.
But if you have experienced complex trauma, have a weak psychological state, have undergone serious surgeries, have had serious injuries, or have other medical limitations you must talk with a medical professional before trying any new treatment.
If you have any concerns, it is better to ask all your questions before trying it as you know yourself best.
Additionally, if you feel uncomfortable at any point, you are your biggest advocate- so speak up.
Can You Do It Alone?
No matter what kind of exercise you are doing, it is important to make sure you have proper form for two reasons.
One, so you can reap all the benefits that exercise has to offer. And two, so you do not accidentally injure yourself while doing it.
Because both of these are true for TREs, it is important to learn the different exercises from a professional who can teach you the proper form to do them successfully and safely.
However, once you learn the form, it is fine to do the exercises alone and on your own time.
About the author:
Jon writes for ADT Healthcare and a number of other websites. Jon graduated with a degree in psychology in 1992. Jon has been in recovery for 19 years.