The medical community has warned for decades that stress shortens our life span. As a preventative, they have advised us to exercise and invest in community.
But what happens when stress is a habit formed in childhood?
Some parents are unprepared for the demands of raising a child. Their attention may be inconsistent, or even amplify distress in their children. In response, a child becomes vigilant, always scanning the environment for threats.
Physically, “vigilance” manifests in chronic activation of our sympathetic nervous system, marshalling energy in support of fight or flight. Unfortunately, in that state we produce more toxins than the body can clear. The damage caused by those toxins builds up over the years, shortening our lives.
The problem is that this chronic activation of fight/flight occurs before we could reason and is the foundation upon which we built our behavior. Those with childhood stress need to be in stress to function. For this reason, activating the parasympathetic nervous system – unleashing our internal capacity for learning and growth – requires dedicated effort.
The first step is diagnosis. Are you chronically stressed? Here is a simple test, and one that will help you experience comfort. Find a place where you can sit side-by-side with a friend, looking past them. Together, slowly raise your arms and embrace as you lean together. Once you are connected, focus on the melting together of your torsos. The goal is to soften, and to notice how your bodies shift as that softening occurs. Hold the embrace until you are in complete comfort.
If hugging awakens tension, fear, or libido, a therapist can suggest additional practices. If you find comfort, congratulations! This awareness can be extended to every interaction. In a healthy relationship, we are guided by this sense of softening. Yes, the world outside will bring stress, but we shouldn’t be amplifying it when we turn to our community for support.
Recognize, as well, that if you suffered from chronic childhood anxiety, your behaviors often function to sustain stress. Trance is designed to unblock your subconscious patterns, allowing you to adapt to a stress-reduction lifestyle. A skilled therapist will help you identify subconscious blocks and structure therapy to help you move through them. To learn more, reach out!