Our brains and bodies remember trauma, even when we strive to move past it. Trauma gets “trapped” in the body due to the way the brain processes threatening events. It can negatively impact relationships by causing a lack of trust, avoidance of intimacy, withdrawal, and poor communication. If not dealt with, trauma can manifest in the body affecting key areas of the brain like the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, and also stores trauma through muscle tension, pain, fatigue, numbness, etc. There are proven ways to release stored trauma from your mind and body through therapy like somatic therapy and practices like yoga. Daily self-care, like identifying triggers, calming the nervous system, and regulating sleep/nutrition, can help manage lingering trauma. With time, patience, and the right tools, healing is possible.

Unresolved-trauma--1024x726 Stored Trauma

What Is Stored Trauma?

Trauma has a way of sticking with us long after a traumatic event occurs. You may think you’ve moved on, but your brain and body tell a different story. Unresolved trauma can leave its imprint through chronic tension or pain, feeling “on edge” all the time, headaches and other unexplained symptoms, and changes to your memory and concentration. These are signs of past trauma still hanging around in your nervous system and unprocessed emotional baggage weighing you down.

How Trauma Gets Trapped

Trauma gets “trapped” because of how our brains are wired. Our rational thought processes shut down when something truly threatening or terrifying happens, triggering the fight-or-flight response. While this helps us react quickly in the moment, it also prevents us from properly processing and storing the event. Instead, the traumatic memory gets encoded as vivid sensory fragments – sounds, images, physical sensations – and is stored in the emotional centres rather than where factual memories go. As a result, the traumatic experience is not integrated into your life story like other memories. It gets stuck in your nervous system, continually activating your body’s stress responses.

Stored Trauma and Relationships

Trauma doesn’t just impact you individually – it can also spill over into your closest relationships. Partners, family members, friends – no relationship is immune. Trauma creates a sense of threat even in “normal” situations, making it hard to feel safe or connected. It leads to behaviors like conflict avoidance, emotional unavailability, numbing out, avoiding intimacy and vulnerability, difficulty expressing feelings, people pleasing, repressing one’s own needs, need for control, rigidity about plans and routines, micromanaging, resistance to change or spontaneity, withdrawal and isolation, trouble with trust, reactivity, and difficulty communicating.

Understanding the Physical Impact of Stored Trauma

mind-body-1 Stored Trauma

Trauma lives rent-free in our minds, and it also takes a toll on the body. Let’s look at the main ways unresolved trauma can imprint itself physically. Several areas of the brain are impacted by traumatic experiences, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Even after time has passed, the body remembers the trauma. Physical and emotional triggers easily activate the fight-or-flight response again. Common bodily manifestations include muscle tension, headaches, nausea, chest tightness, chronic pain, fatigue, and numbness. Emotions create distinct maps of activation in the body, which is why we often feel knots in our stomach when nervous or tension in our jaw when angry.

Healing & Releasing Trauma

The good news is there are proven techniques to resolve trauma that continues to live in your body and mind. With the right tools and therapist, you can process old pain, drop that extra baggage, and reclaim your health and happiness.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy focuses on releasing trauma stored in the body through touch and movement. It helps discharge chronic muscle tension to regulate the nervous system. This therapy is especially effective for trauma patients who don’t respond to talk therapy.

Additional Healing Modalities

Other practices can complement therapy to address trauma holistically. These include yoga, meditation, art or music therapy, acupuncture, and neuro-feedback.

Releasing Trapped Emotions

Adding practices to acknowledge and move through painful emotions can accelerate healing. These include identifying and naming your feelings, shadow work, intentional movement, talking to a friend, and journaling.

Mindset Shifts

Adjusting your mindset helps you feel less overwhelmed. Remember, you are not broken, it’s not your fault, progress over perfection, and allow feelings to flow.

Calm the Nervous System

Daily rituals that engage the parasympathetic nervous system quiet the body’s stress responses. These include breathwork, yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, mindful movement, and listening to music.

Support Your Body

Strengthen your physical health with good daily habits such as balanced nutrition, high-quality sleep, supplements, bodywork, and limit alcohol.

In conclusion, we all experience painful experiences that can imprint themselves onto our hearts, bodies, and mental health. But remember, your story does not end there. You can edit and revise the narrative – reframing trauma not as something that broke you but something that made you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate with a deeper appreciation for life. Releasing stored trauma is possible through proven therapies and daily practices.