The body keeps the score

The body keeps the score

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I don’t think I’ve ever turned to social media before and seen so much stress around. Teachers and school staff seem overwhelmed with the current pressures of COVID along with the normal pressures of education. Parents are buckling under the uncertainty of living week to week, and sometimes day to day as children are in and out of school. Businesses are crumbling with the looming cloud of debt and unsustainable challenges.

We are all feeling it to one degree or another.

Personally, I have been so much more aware of my own stress levels over this year, for many different reasons. One thing that has helped is listening more to what my body is telling me and trying to give myself what I need. For example, I have started attending Somatics classes online. You may not have heard of this before – I hadn’t but the definition of Somatic yoga is that it helps to retrain the brain and the nervous system to let go of the patterns that our bodies get locked into due to illness, trauma, habits, aging, and stress, through small and gentle movements. Basically, it helps to let go of the stress in your body to enable you to relax.

Why am I telling you this?

It’s made me think a lot about stress and the impact it has on our bodies. If you’ve followed me for any length of time you will have heard me talk about early childhood trauma and the impact on our brains. There is also a huge impact on our nervous system and our cortisol levels (stress hormone) when we experience any kind of trauma. Some of those impacts for children can be long lasting into adulthood. Some traumas can impact us straight away whilst others take longer to emerge. However trauma appears, and for however long, our body keeps the score of those hurts in some way.

Bessel Van Der Kolk book ‘The Body keeps the score’ talks about just that – mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. He says,

‘Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe.’

Stressed people live in stressed bodies!

So what about the children and young people around you that you live or work with? How stressed are they and how is it showing up? What can you do to help them relax? We talk about brain breaks or movement breaks at schools and they are so important. Other ways to regulate the brain and body will help, along with adult presence to help the child feel safe.

What about you though? What about your stress levels? If your body was keeping the score right now how high would it be?

I know for me this COVID time will be one I look back on and see those habits and patterns of practices that helped me to understand my stress levels more, especially around what’s going on physically. I am learning to let go and to acknowledge the level of stress I’m feeling.

You may want to find some practices yourself like Somatics Yoga. You may already know what can help you and just need to do it. Whatever your body needs right now try to do it and take notice of those around you and what score their bodies might be keeping. Some traumas are visible but most are not.

Before I finish I want to just put out some feedback to those voices in your head when you try to look after yourself;

  • But I’m being selfish – others need me. Whilst that’s true others do need you – they won’t have you to help if you don’t look after yourself. Put the oxygen mask on first.
  • But it’s not that bad – everyone’s feeling the same. Yes, maybe they are but that’s not the point. Your stress is your stress and you have to take responsibility to do something about it – they won’t.
  • What a waste of time lying on the floor and breathing (Somatics) – I could be doing something productive instead. Well yes, I guess you could but I know from myself I am much more productive and happy once I have centred myself and let go.
  • I don’t have time for this, I’m just too busy. I would argue that you don’t have time NOT to do this. ‘Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process’. (


So do your body a favour – find a way to relax, cultivate a lifestyle that supports a healthy body, brain and mind.


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