The exercises on the image to the left use a form of deep pressure touch to help calm our nervous system when we are in a sympathetic nervous system response. As with any sensory modulation practices, self-holding might feel calming and soothing for some of us, awakening for some of us, and not effective for some of us.
Heidi Hanson, artist and mother of the website, “The Art of Healing Trauma: Illustrated Trauma Healing Exercises, Stories and Research” created this. You can find out more on her website: www.new-synapse.com. Please support Heidi’s work by purchasing something from her store if you find her work useful for your work.
Touch and Voice in Communicating Compassion
This article briefly explores touch and vocalizations as expressions of compassion. There’s not a lot written about vocalizations, but here is some of what is mentioned about touch:
“Recent theory and evidence indicate that touch is a primary platform for the development of secure attachments and cooperative relationships—two contexts in which compassion is theorized to have evolved. …touch is the most developed sensory modality at birth… Recent empirical studies of humans and nonhumans find that soothing touch can stimulate activation in reward regions of the brain (Rolls, 2000), reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Francis & Meaney, 1999), and reduce activation in stress-related regions of the brain when pain is anticipated (Coan, Schaefer, & Davidson, 2006). Touch is a powerful means by which individuals reduce the suffering of others.”
How does it feel to read that there is research supporting the beneficial qualities of touch? Does it help you to feel more comfortable trying touch as a form of self-soothing?
Understanding the Stress Response
This article is designed to help us understand the stress response, why stress is detrimental to our health in the long term, and offers some tools for supporting ourselves.
In this article, there are three suggested practices to help address stress:
- Relaxation practices including “deep abdominal breathing, focus on a soothing word (such as peace or calm), visualization of tranquil scenes, repetitive prayer, yoga, and tai chi.”
- Physical activity. “People can use exercise to stifle the buildup of stress in several ways. Exercise, such as taking a brisk walk shortly after feeling stressed, not only deepens breathing but also helps relieve muscle tension. Movement therapies such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus, all of which can induce calm.”
- Social support. “Confidants, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, relatives, spouses, and companions all provide a life-enhancing social net — and may increase longevity. It’s not clear why, but the buffering theory holds that people who enjoy close relationships with family and friends receive emotional support that indirectly helps to sustain them at times of chronic stress and crisis.”