Stress and Trauma Take Center Stage
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Everywhere around us, it seems as if society is melting down. The World Health Organization has warned of a looming mental illness crisis resulting from “the isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil” brought on by the pandemic. As shown below, Wellmore does not believe this issue is solely the result of COVID-19. Unfortunately, it is the continuation of longer-term trends that have resulted in all-time high levels of stress and will remain a major challenge.
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide), and the CDC estimates that stress accounts for about 75% of all doctor visits. For our wellness and nature resort to truly provide transformative experiences, we must address stress and its underlying enabler: trauma.
Groundbreaking evidence has proven that past trauma, whether severe or subtle, often gets “trapped” in a person’s body and mind. This unprocessed tension reduces our resilience during normal daily activities, neurologically pushing (or triggering) us into “survival mode” (i.e., fight, flight, freeze) – even when we are not in a crisis.
Trauma does not have to be extreme (e.g., car accident, abuse, etc.) for it to have a lifelong impact. For example, someone could have had an overly critical parent and as an adult becomes very defensive when faced with even the smallest piece of feedback. Someone else could have felt like they had to be the perfect child to be loved in their family, and as an adult becomes a mega-overachiever who puts up walls and feels lonely inside.
We also now understand that the way we perceive simple life events is more dependent on these past experiences than the life event itself. Managing daily stress becomes exceedingly difficult if we have not processed past trauma or trained ourselves to slow down and avoid fight/flight/freeze reactions.
When stressful events push us into survival mode, we react subconsciously, and do whatever has been preprogrammed to help us feel safe and avoid (perceived) pain. We then follow-up these actions with “coping” behaviors, which are often satisfying in the short run, but painful over time (e.g., substance abuse, over-eating, self-loathing, excessive screen-time, etc.).
Furthermore, new evidence provides proof that (a) past trauma can be “unwound” (or processed) at any time and (a) the brain’s neuroplasticity enables us to re-wire behavioral habits to better handle stress.
In fact, no fancy medical facilities or pharmaceutical drugs are necessary to do this rewiring. The key requirements are (i) a safe and empathetic environment, (ii) an intention to change, (iii) and skilled practitioners well-trained in diverse mind/body healing modalities. These conditions can guide us on a path to recovery of our whole selves -- sometimes very quickly and sometimes over longer periods of time.
Addressing trauma results in an “awakening” or noetic moment that expands our consciousness and creates a much deeper connection with oneself, family, friends, purpose, nature, and/or spirituality. Wellmore Partners believes that enabling these transformative experiences on a programmatic basis is central to their mission for Simply Shenandoah.