Stress Body Tracing™ is a system that combines Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapies and Relaxation Tools to aid in identifying key stress areas within your physical body and the awareness of any emotions and triggers that add to your individual stress blueprint! Using this system can help you to reduce stress within your life.
We all know that feeling of heaviness or anxiety that can hit us like a tidal wave out of nowhere. That feeling of overwhelm and confusion that can be associated with high levels of stress. How often do you sit with this feeling and unpick what causes you to feel this way? With awareness comes the power to be able to do something about what you are experiencing.
This article offers a short introduction to using Stress Body Tracing™. It is important to know that we all experience stress differently and we carry our own personal stress blueprint which is unique to us. Stress Body Tracing™ allows us to create a picture or snapshot of how we individually experience this, which then allows us to create new coping mechanisms to reduce stress symptoms. This is best explored for the first time with support from someone who is able to guide you through your trauma and safely help you to explore any triggers, memories and coping mechanisms!
Before we start, lets look at what stress is?
Stress is a physical body response. When we are feeling under pressure our body can go into fight or flight mode as it feels that it is under attack. When we feel under attack, our body produces hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine which energises us and sends us into hyper-alert. As a result this can leave us feeling anxious, tired and drained. Stress is a whole body response!
Not all stress is bad for us! Healthy stress fuels motivation and determination. Healthy stress can support us to achieve success in many areas of our lives. Healthy stress can keep us safe and work in our advantage! However unhealthy prolonged stress can cause chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Types of stress:
Acute stress: is the type of stress that we most commonly experience within our daily lives. For example at work when we are asked to give a presentation. When we are late and are running for a bus. When you have an argument with your partner and are upset. These are all acute forms which turn on the body hormone reactive system. These types of stress are very temporary and often lead to a feeling of elation once completed. If a severe and shocking experience of acute stress is experienced such as physical assault or a car accident, then this can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Episodic acute stress: is when acute stress happens frequently. A personal example involves someone close to me who was being bullied at school. Over a number of months, I would constantly have these stressful moments where I was having to pick up the pieces when this person needed my support. I was living in a state of one stress episode after another.
Chronic stress: is when acute stress isn’t resolved or lasts for a longer period of time. This can wreak havoc on the body and cause long term mental health and physical health challenges. These type of stress would usually come from situations like;
Parenting someone with a challenging demeanor
Living within a violent or unhappy marriage
Living in poverty
Being bullied at school
Other factors to consider:
Environmental stress: can include your home environment and clutter, noise, pollution and more.
Emotional stress: can include complicated relationships with loved ones, emotional abuse, anxiety disorders and depression.
Physical stress: can include a lack of sleep, over exertion within exercise routines, having too much to physically cope with.
Nutritional stress: can include eating lots of processed foods, lack of vitamins and minerals, not enough water and diets high in sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Spiritual stress: can include feeling a disconnect from source or the divine.
Having an awareness of these different causes and factors is so vital to ensuring that you are able to create your unique stress blueprint which recognises, re-frames and releases any unnecessary stress from your life!
Helping you to reduce stress and to feel more empowered, healthy and vibrant!
Lets create your unique stress body trace!
Step 1: Draw your body as a doodle outline
Kind of like a gingerbread person. Giving yourself a blank canvas to work from. You don’t need to be a Picasso to make this work in a simple way. I have used stick figures before but have found that a gingerbread doodle works best for me.
Step 2: Connecting with a deep state of relaxation
This helps to relax your mind and connect with your body. This is an important tool for engaging your memory and all of your body cells to enable you to connect with key areas which carry and store your stress memories. Take a few minutes to really deeply engage with a more relaxed version of you. Using the words breathing in and breathing out can be very useful too! Start to focus on your body and relax all areas one bit at a time. Scanning your body for any tension spots.
Step 3: Connecting with an experience
Start to connect with this memory and explore the feelings and emotions that came up for you. Ask your body to reveal to you where you are carrying trauma, stress, fatigue and anxiety. Allow your mind to journey and trace throughout your body. It can help if you imagine a light tracing through your body. Tracing the outline of your body, your organs, your scalp and hairline, your arms, fingers and shoulders. Tracing through your stomach and into your back and spine. Allow your body to really journey deeply into any areas which are causing you heightened sensitivities or awareness. Take as much time as you need to gather your awareness. Allowing any pictures, people, colours, memories etc to gently float in and out of your mind and physical body.
Step 4: Begin to map your body
Once you have opened your eyes and come back into the room you can begin to trace your body. You can do this in anyway that feels good for you. You can circle key areas and add colours which represent any emotions, memories or feelings. You can add names of people, places or things which came up for you and add to your stress. You can start to create a picture or blueprint of your unique stress factors and how they represent for you!
Step 5: Reflect and evaulate
Now that you have awareness, you can reflect on the different factors that add to your stress levels. You can start to look for the triggers that cause you anxiety, unease, illness, fatigue and overwhelm. You can start to take action in your life to address key stress building factors and either avoid or limit their impact on your physical and emotional body.
Other ways to adapt the Stress Body Tracing™ system to work for you:
Get your family involved:
Everyone can benefit from this! If your child explodes with anger, you can help them to trace their body and to share what is happening for them. Bringing awareness and allowing you the space to explore solutions and calming techniques which may help!
Relationships and Boundaries:
Using this system to identify how you feel when you are around other people. What triggers do you experience and where do you experience these? Is this a healthy relationship?
Food and Mood:
When you ear certain foods, how do these foods feel within you? Slowing down to eat and tracing the journey of your food throughout your body! How does this sit for you? What emotions come up for you when you eat and where do you experience these emotions within your body?
Creating an anger map and tracing the body! Who, what, where and how in your body?
If you would like to find out more about the Stress Body Tracing™ system and are interested in training to use this within your organisation or circle – VISIT OUR COURSE WEBSITE
We offer this training to parent support groups, school groups, youth workers, families, therapists and anyone who is interested in learning more…