What is trauma & how to transform it


In this blog, Wellness Coach Sarah will explain what trauma is and how to transform it.

Most people can deal with the demands and stress of everyday life without much difficulty. However, for those who have experienced trauma, anxiety, or other mental illness, it can be difficult to stay in a regulated or normal state.

What is trauma?

Trauma is something that happens physiologically & emotionally, & impacts your behavior.

It happens when your stressful experience is unwitnessed and unacknowledged. It is not the event itself.

It could be more is asked of you that what you have the ability to cope with – like losing a parent then losing a child.

It’s more then you can process, comprehend or cope with, with the resources you have.

You become overwhelmed & experience, react & reexperience the traumatic situation & emotions. 

The effects are you may feel stuck in life, overwhelmed, suffer physical and/or mental illness, struggle to have healthy relationships or have a meaningful life.

It might not be trauma…

A challenging or difficult event or situation doesn’t automatically cause trauma. You may lose a loved one but have put many preparatory coping mechanisms in place before so your resilience has been strengthened. Of course the loss will be incredibly sad but your response to it has been through love and support.

It is our response to the event that determines whether we are traumatized by it.


How does trauma feel?

Life is no longer carefree. You are disconnected from the world. Your mind is full of worry and your body’s nervous system is on overdrive or shut down so your physical health is affected.

If you are traumatized, your basic human needs of survival are challenged. You feel unsafe & your nervous system may be on high alert so you can not relax or be present. In the present, we can respond to what’s actually happening and not react to shadows of the past or projections of the future.

If your nervous system has been deregulated for while you may feel hopeless, numb or complete disconnection from yourself & the world.

Ways trauma may happen include…

  • It could be a single event – assault, accident or abuse.
  • Repeated long term series of events – abuse, war, mistreatment in childhood.
  • Varied and multiple events – neglect with abuse or multi generational.
  • You may witness harm to someone else.


Transform your trauma.

We can’t turn back the clock and stop trauma from happening, but we can transform it’s impact on ourselves. When you choose to bring the trauma forward into the light, to witness and acknowledge it, you offer the chance for deep healing.

You can release the trauma.

But we can only let something go if we acknowledge it’s there. 


Why it it important to heal.

Trauma fundamentally changes how you see yourself and the world around you. It destroys trust in self/body/others/ability.

Your body feels unsafe and stressed.

When the body is in a constant state of stress you are at risk of symptoms such as

  • Sleep problems
  • Immune system breakdown
  • Anxiety/anger/depression and other emotional challenges
  • Muscle tension/fatigue/pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Vascular problems
  • Sex and intimacy problems

Stress is the precursor to many diseases & has a huge affect the quality of your life.

You can heal from these symptoms if you allow space for healing.

You may have tried talking therapy or counselling, but it’s your body that physiologically responds to and holds the stress. If you don’t offer the body safety or somatic healing you can keep re-experiencing trauma.

It is your human birth right to feel safe, happy, connected & whole. Every human has a gift that deserves to be expressed to the world and we can only do this from a regulated state. 

We can only rise up if our roots are strong.

You can only show up as the best version of yourself in a sustainable way when your body is in a state of balance – homeostasis. In this state you feel in control, stable & functioning at your optimum. 

Starting your healing journey begins with self awareness. Getting to really know your state, your needs and giving yourself permission to recover.


4 ways to begin to heal trauma

In order to survive you may have had to disembody or dissociate from your experience and self. Slowly & safely coming back to your self through Somatic Embodiment can be a helpful tool in healing.

  1. Somatic Embodiment is how we feel in the body without the mind getting involved. This is called the bottom up approach to healing as opposed to a mind up approach such as talking therapy.

It allows you to create a healthy relationship by checking in with yourself and needs by asking yourself these simple questions regularly 

It allows you to really inhabit your body & the wholeness of your experience. The key here is to remember your state is always in flux to keep checking in and acting in a way to suit your needs at that moment. 

And REALLY meet the needs of your body. This builds connection, trust & safety with your body.

This might be as simple as getting a little more sleep, talking to a friend if you feel lonely or down or perhaps offering yourself more space by making fewer social engagements if you feel overwhelmed.

Yoga & movement can help also help regulate your nervous system. It might be shaking the body, jumping up and down,keeping low to the ground on the floor in a child’s pose or slowly moving through sun salutations with presence.


2. Change the narrative

Self trust is built by changing the narrative of your experience. 

Metta Bhavana is a buddhist meditative practice that cultivates loving kindness and allows you to access self compassion by speaking with kindness to self & others.

So often we pour from an empty cup & this is unsustainable when we are experiencing trauma.

This practice has been a game changer for me & my clients. It gives permission to be supportive when we are struggling & create a healthy relationship with self rather than falling into a negative self narrative.

It teaches you to be present moment oriented rather than goal orientated.


3. Breathwork 

Breath is life and breathing can have a healing or harming effect on the body.

We can influence the inner functioning of our body through our breath and regulate the nervous system.

Studies show that most of us are in a hyperventilation state- aka over breathing around-30 breaths a minute. This means we are signaling the brain we are unsafe and need to prepare for danger. A  chronic state of  hyper arousal  is created and the nervous system stays in fight or flight. We need to slow the breath down to 12-15 to normalize the state of the mind & body.

My favorite way to do this is Coherent breathing. 

Breathing deep and rhythmically with conscious effort with an inhale & exhale of equal length allows you to reach a state of Coherence.

Your natural breathing rate ranges from twelve to twenty breaths per minute . With coherent breathing, you decrease this breathing rate significantly to 5 or 6  breaths per minute. 

This has been proven to have a calming effect on the body and mind and allows your body to work at peak efficiency. It lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone).

Watch the video for a guided practice with me here.


4. Find support of others – Self regulation vs co regulation.

Get to know yourself REALLY well and know when your state is becoming unregulated. Learn what it takes to bring you back to a regulated state. This is known as self regulation and might include activities like

Yoga/Yoga Nidra



Tai Chi

Being in nature

Singing or humming

But we do not exist alone. We live in a world where we have to interact with others. Co-regulation is using the support of others to find emotional balance in a non attached way. Humans are designed to co-exist and if one member of the tribe is struggling, the ones that are thriving can be there to offer support.

Positive social connection can help us to feel a sense of belonging rather than loneliness and isolation.

Co -regulating could look like practicing Yoga in a class rather that online, joining a group or class to enjoy a hobby or exercise, getting a relaxing massage or hugging another person or stroking a pet.

As you begin to heal, you can begin to help yourself build resilience.

Resilience is a learnt skill which means anyone has the opportunity for healing but genetics can help.

When building up resilience we look at our window of tolerance and SLOWLY expand it.

The window of tolerance was originally described by Dr. Dan Siegel as the optimal zone of arousal in which a person would be able to function and deal with day-to-day stress most effectively.

Think of your window of tolerance as a river and you’re floating in the middle down that river. When you expand your window of tolerance the river widens and the flow slows down. You are comfortable and safe flowing down the calm waters.



Sarah King is the founder of Balanced Body Wellness, an eco wellness company that offer healing through Yoga & nature connection. She is healing from a journey of mental illness and self harm that led her to try and end her own life. Yoga has been a transformational tool and she holds 500 hours training with Yoga Alliance including 80 hours Trauma Informed & Resilience Training.

She offers online or in person 1:1 sessions for you to be heard, held and healed. If you would like to enquire about working with Sarah, you can email balancedbodywellnessuk@gmail.com or head to balancedbodywellnessuk.com 





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