Healing Strategies: Using the body

Lesson objective:

What are the different strategies for healing? Here, we focus on bottom – up strategies. Those strategies rely on the body itself to rebuild healthy communication and send clear calming messages to the brain.

We know, for the most part, what systems have been targeted and “attacked” by stress and trauma. 

Thankfully, by knowing the effects, and understanding the goals of resilience and post-traumatic growth, we can start to think through some targeted solutions. 

Just as stress and trauma affect the brain, the body, and behavior, we can use these exact same things—the brain, the body, and our behaviors—to undo some of the negative effects we may have experienced. 

Specifically, we can strategically use our thoughts, our bodies, and our behaviors with those around us to regain control, to rebuild healthy functioning of the control tower which has been so deeply affected by life’s events.

Generally, trauma recovery strategies are classified into three levels:

  1.     Pharmacological
  2.     Top-Down
  3.     Bottom-Up

Pharmacological simply means using medication. It is an important issue, and can be incredibly helpful, but we will not discuss it here. 

We will focus here on bottom-up and top-down strategies for healing. 

First, bottom-up strategies for healing use the body and its systems to undo some of the damage done by stress and trauma. 

These strategies focus on restoring control over the body, adjusting hormone levels and autonomic nervous system activity, and restoring healthy interoception. 

These strategies use the body itself to rebuild healthy communication, and to send clea-r calming messages to the brain. 

As an example, think one more time of the control tower.  

Bottom-up interventions focus more on the tower and the equipment, and less so on the engineers. 

Bottom-up interventions focus on ensuring healthy communication between all wires and equipment; they focus on rebooting the radar and all other systems that help the engineer interpret new threats and any remaining issues with the tower after a period of stress, this strategy focuses on building healthy communication between body systems and the brain.

Examples of bottom-up strategies include exercise, certain form of yoga practice, and martial arts–things that deliberately use the body and movement to regain control and healthy communication.