When an accident happens -- fall, bicycle or car crash, assault -- our bodies have natural physiological responses to those events. These responses help our brains and bodies release chemicals to help our bodies cope during and after the event.
In most accidents or assaults, we become immobilized in some way; we're physically unable to move, we have determined we shouldn't, or both. Immediately after an accident, our bodies might shake, tremble, cry, or breathe rapidly to release energy that was unable to be released during the event because of our immobilization. Allowing our bodies to engage in these physiological responses can be vital to the successful resolution of these events.
Oftentimes, though, we don't allow ourselves or others to have these natural responses. We're embarrassed to cry so we hold back our tears. We think it's inappropriate to scream so we muffle our voices. We're frightened of the sensation of our body's uncontrolled trembling so we try to remain still. By not allowing the release of pent-up, stressful energy, we walk around with unresolved stress reactions, which is unhealthy and problematic -- in both the short- and long-term.
You see, that energy remains until we burn it off, and intense or chronic stress is damaging to our bodies. The longer it takes for us to release that energy, the more likely we will have physical and/or emotional problems (heart disease, autoimmune disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, emotional instability, behavioral outbursts).
So, the next time you or someone you're with experiences an accident or assault, allow your body to engage in the natural release of energy afterward. You even can help express that energy by purposefully engaging in movement activities such as gentle rocking or shaking, bouncing, walking, arm circles, or lunges.
If you experienced an accident or assault and still feel stuck in those experiences, consider working with someone who specializes in helping people work through those past negative events. EMDR, yoga, hypnosis, and other body-focused (somatosensory) treatments are known to decrease or completely eliminate negative symptoms that result from accidents or assaults. Just be sure the person you choose to work with has specific training in working with survivors of accidents or assaults.