How Trauma Affects Wellness
And how we can become better health coaches by addressing trauma in our practices
The recent tragedy in Vegas was very hard for me to absorb.
When I heard the news, all I could think about was my family’s recent visit to the city.
As I strolled the busy sidewalk with my husband and 12-year-old son just a few months ago, I was greeted with the laughter and smiles of tourists at every angle.
Today, these happy memories keep replaying through my mind, but are interrupted by the gut-wrenching sound of gunfire and mass panic.
But I’m not writing this to upset you. While this blog post is primarily serving as an emotional outlet for me, I’m also writing this because I want you to realize how big of an impact trauma and tragedy such as the one in Vegas have on our health and the health of our clients.
Trauma is one of the seven pillars that contribute to optimal wellness that I teach my students, along with whole foods, sleep, fun, safe movement, stress and spirituality.
The fact is that your client could be doing everything else right for their health, but if their body is dealing with unaddressed trauma, they may not be able to overcome their health issues.
For example, despite their best efforts, a client who struggles to lose weight may not get anywhere with a designated food plan. But what you may not realize if you don’t dig that deep, is that this client may have endured extreme trauma recently (or even during their childhood) that their body hasn’t released.
This unreleased trauma could be the ONE thing that moves the needle on their progress.
Let’s take a look at how unaddressed trauma during childhood can lead to health problems later in life.
According to an article on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as if the individual is under extreme stress. This stress can impair the development of the brain and nervous system.”
The article further states that, “Children with complex trauma histories may develop chronic or recurrent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches. Adults with histories of trauma in childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems.
Complexly traumatized youth frequently suffer from body dysregulation, meaning they over-respond or under respond to sensory stimuli. For example, they may be hypersensitive to sounds, smells, touch or light, or they may suffer from anesthesia and analgesia, in which they are unaware of pain, touch, or internal physical sensations. As a result, they may injure themselves without feeling pain, suffer from physical problems without being aware of them, or, the converse – they may complain of chronic pain in various body areas for which no physical cause can be found.”
You can read this article here.
Could your next client be someone who watched their home flood and wash away? Could it be a person who lost a pet to the hurricane who was the only friend they had? Could it be someone whose child was shot at the event in Vegas or even someone who felt the sand kick up in their face as they crawled to safety?
Yes, it very well could…
And we can help our clients feel less alone and overwhelmed if we understand how trauma affects our physical and mental well-being and are able to lead them to the right resources and support in a responsible way.
Remember, when working with your clients, it isn’t just about what goes in your mouth, it’s about so much more than that and you can be the person who helps them find the light in their life.
I pray for every person who was there, I pray for their families and friends. I pray that instead of creating more hate and anger toward each other about the differences we will have about WHY it happened (gun control, mental health issues etc.) that we can respect each other and not allow hate and evil have an even bigger presence in our world today.
Thank you all for being a part of this positive community…together, we can make a bigger difference.
Read here for more information about the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study. Consider sharing the link with any clients you think may benefit from learning more about this topic.
Reminder: Always refer to a mental health expert if the client requests support on how to deal with unaddressed trauma. We are not psychologists, but we can educate them on how trauma can affect wellness and direct them to appropriate resources and support.