Over the winter break, I read a book about rest called Rest Is Resistance. Y’all the author told no lies, not a single one. After reading this book, I reflected on rest related themes within trauma therapy. In reflecting, I realize that many trauma survivors believe either that they are undeserving of rest or that rest has to be earned. Another caveat is that for those who cope using the flight response, staying busy is an act of avoidance preventing them from facing their trauma. Those who cope with the fawn response also practice a level of avoidance of their wants and needs as they prioritize the needs of others. For trauma survivors, these actions are coping skills necessary to survive their trauma. Rest, unfortunately, during trauma is a privilege that one is not afforded. However, rest is essential as it is part of the anecdote to PTSD.
Why Rest is Essential for Black Trauma Survivors
Rest is a crucial component in trauma therapy for several reasons:
Slavery changed the relationship between rest and Black bodies. In many ways, our current grapple with resting is connected to social engineering that we do not need or deserve rest. This leads to concepts seen in grind culture which supports a constant hustle and views rest as laziness. From epigenetic research, we know that stress be passed down through our genes, but so can healing. Embodying rest is an opportunity to heal intergenerational trauma by changing your DNA thus paying homage to ancestors for the rest they deserved but could not have.
Regulation of the Nervous System:
Trauma often dysregulates the nervous system, leading to heightened states of arousal or periods of dissociation. Adequate rest is essential for regulating the autonomic nervous system, allowing individuals to move between states of activation and relaxation. Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation, which are often incorporated into trauma therapy, help promote a regulated nervous system.
Integration of Traumatic Memories:
The brain processes and consolidates memories during periods of rest, particularly during sleep. Adequate rest supports the integration of traumatic memories into a person’s overall life narrative. This integration can contribute to a sense of coherence and understanding, reducing the emotional charge associated with traumatic events.
Physical and Emotional Healing:
Rest is essential for the body’s natural healing processes. Adequate sleep supports physical health, immune function, and overall well-being. Emotionally, rest allows individuals to recharge and build resilience, enhancing their ability to cope with stressors and engage more effectively in therapy.
Cognitive Function and Coping Skills:
Sleep and rest play a significant role in cognitive functioning. Adequate rest enhances attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. This cognitive functioning is crucial for individuals in trauma therapy to engage in the therapeutic process, develop coping skills, and work through challenging emotions and thoughts.
Lack of sleep can contribute to emotional dysregulation, making it more difficult for individuals to manage their emotions effectively. Rest supports emotional regulation, helping individuals in trauma therapy better navigate intense or distressing emotions that may arise during sessions.
Trauma therapy aims to help individuals build resilience and develop adaptive coping strategies. Rest is a fundamental aspect of self-care and resilience-building. It provides individuals with the energy and resources needed to engage in the therapeutic work and implement coping skills learned in therapy.
Rest Is Your Birthright, Start Working With a Trauma Therapist in Baltimore, MD
As a trained trauma therapist, I’m happy to offer support in helping clients learn new coping skills to overcome the effects of past trauma. If you find yourself struggling to rest and gain new coping skills, please reach out. You can start your therapy journey with RISE by following these simple steps:
- Reach out to me with questions or interest in getting started.
- Meet with me, Christina, for a consultation call to discuss your goals.
- Start experiencing the rest you deserve!
Other Services at Revilatizing Inner Self Essence in Baltimore, MD
Due to extensive and ongoing training, I have many skills to help women overcome trauma and thrive in their lives today. While I offer trauma therapy at my Baltimore, MD-area practice, I specialize in working with domestic violence and homicide survivors. In addition, I am also trained in Mind-Body Medicine, I am trained in EMDR as a trauma therapy approach. If you are interested in getting to know more about my practice and my methods for helping domestic violence and homicide survivors, reach out to me.