As a somatic therapist, I’ve witnessed firsthand how social isolation can make the journey to healing from trauma more challenging. The truth is, we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER and WE NEED EACH OTHER TO HEAL.
But fear not, Dear Ones, I’m here to shed some light on three compelling reasons why social isolation can hinder trauma recovery, and more importantly, offer you ways to get more meaningfully connected to support a life worth living.
The Power of Connection
Human beings are wired for connection, for belonging.
We thrive when we feel seen, heard, cared for and understood by others. Experiencing trauma disrupts our sense of safety and trust in the world. As such, socially isolating from people makes sense as a defensive coping strategy in that if one avoids people, then the likelihood of getting hurt decreases.
The main issue with isolation is that it can amplify feelings of loneliness, shame, and disconnection, further reinforcing the traumatic wounds we carry.
Connecting with supportive individuals who genuinely care about our well-being can be incredibly healing.
- Sometimes, we have to start with paid support in the form of therapy or coaching.
- It can also help to simply read books of other folks who have survived trauma and gone on to thrive so that we can get a sense of not feeling alone on our path of healing.
- On-line or in-person support groups are also another valuable way of getting meaningfully connected.
- Cultivating new social supports and friendships is yet, another way to support healing from trauma. I’ve witnessed clients fully change their friend and support circle by intentionally choosing people who have done or are doing healing work because it helps them to feel more fully understood.
It is so critical to surround yourself with people who uplift and support you on your journey. And, as you heal and grow, having a supportive community around you gives you a more accurate reflection of the positive changes you’ve been making on your path. We need others with whom we can share our wins, help hold our grief and pain and cheerlead us on when things get hard.
The Healing Power of Co-Regulation
In the realm of trauma recovery, co-regulation is a vital concept. It refers to the dynamic process of sharing emotions and regulating our nervous system with others, which can help us regain a sense of groundedness, embodied safety and calm.
Engaging in positive social interactions releases oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” which helps to soothe our nervous system. Co-regulation acts as a healing balm, allowing us to integrate and process our traumatic experiences in a supportive environment.
When we isolate ourselves, we miss out on the opportunity for co-regulation. The absence of shared emotional experiences can leave us feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unable to navigate the complexities of our trauma.
Here are some ways to experience the soothing powers of coregulation:
- Find a practitioner who specializes in using a therapeutic touch modality called Co-Regulating Touch (CRT). As a CRT practitioner, I’ve seen miraculous shifts and healing using this approach with clients, especially clients who struggle with the impacts of childhood trauma.
- Hang out with animals, either your pets or someone else’s. Pets are highly therapeutic for those engaging in trauma healing and recovery.
- If you have one “safe enough” friend or family member, simply spending “low and slow” time together, meaning low stimulus, quieter and slower activities, can spark the co-regulation experience. Hanging out with people we trust doing and feel safe with bypasses the thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex) and allows are nervous system to almost auto-magically settle down.
- Yoga, sound healing or mediation experiences in person are another great way to get some co-regulation with others. Group settings like this, focused on healing and connecting to oneself, are powerful ways to not only coregulate with others but also to feel a shared sense of connectedness.
Dear One, let’s make a pact to prioritize relationships that foster co-regulation. Engage in activities that bring you joy and allow for authentic connection. Surround yourself with individuals who offer empathy, compassion, and a safe space for you to heal.
The Magic of Mirror Neurons
Now, let’s dive into the fascinating world of mirror neurons. These little wonders in our brain enable us to understand and empathize with others by mirroring their emotions and experiences. They play a significant role in social learning and emotional regulation. Engaging in positive social interactions activates our mirror neurons, which can be incredibly therapeutic for trauma recovery.
However, social isolation limits our exposure to these meaningful interactions. Without the presence of others, our mirror neurons don’t have the opportunity to fire and wire together, inhibiting our ability to regulate emotions and develop a compassionate understanding of ourselves and others.
By intentionally seeking out connections, sharing our stories, and engaging in empathic relationships, we activate these mirror neurons and open up new pathways for healing.
You Are NOT Alone. We’ve got you!
In closing, remember that while social isolation can make trauma recovery harder, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. The journey towards healing may have its twists and turns, but there’s hope on the horizon.
Reach out, connect, and surround yourself with people who uplift and support you. Engage in co-regulation, allowing your nervous system to find safety and calm. Activate those marvelous mirror neurons through positive social interactions, fostering empathy and understanding.
Your healing matters.
Let’s embark on this journey together, with open hearts and a belief in the power of resilience. Trauma recovery is a courageous path, and by acknowledging the impact of social isolation, we empower ourselves to take proactive steps towards healing.
So, let’s take that first step today. Reach out, connect, and embrace the transformative power of human connection. You are worthy of healing, and you are never alone on this journey.