DREAM – Developing a Relationship between Emotions And Movement

Building Resiliance through Movement

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

What is it that makes someone recover quickly? Or what is it that encourages toughness? Research has done little to effectively pinpoint what it is that makes someone more tough or able to cope with life’s challenges better than others. But what we do know is that when the brain believes that the body is safe it has more “elasticity” to form new concepts and is more accepting of change. I find this interesting because this means that we need to make sure that we feel safe first before we even attempt to do anything new. The irony here is that anything new will initially make us feel unsafe. So how can we overcome this conundrum?

Our body is the link! When the brain believes that the body is safe… then higher functioning like mastering change or challenges will be less stressful and we can anticipate higher resilience or quicker bounce back!!

The most efficient way to convey to the brain that the body is safe is through movement! Not mental training or academic understanding but movement.

Movement engages all our senses including the internal senses namely proprioception and the vestibular system which many of us are unaware of. Without going into too much detail movement is a way for the brain to assess how things are going with us! AND movement is also the way we adjust to sensations – positive or negative.

The first interaction a newborn has with its environment is through reflexes which are movements. There is no logical understanding or thought patters at that stage. The brain simply assesses the information it receives through ALL the senses (internal and external) and responds with a movement. As we develop we start building on those reflexes and we learn how to regulate and modify them. It seems that therefore the root of feeling safe lies in our body – through movement.

Movement is not to be confused with exercise! Physical exercise is generally associated with some sort of movement but exercise as such does not necessarily translate into building resilience. (Although many might argue that trained athletes are generally more resilient, but I am not going to delve into this right now.) The movement that the brain requires is not at all related to a cardio workout, strength training, a long run or any other formal sport. It really “only” requires child’s play. Moving on all planes front/back, top/bottom, left/right, up/down and crossing the mid-line. In other words rolling, crawling, walking, marching, etc. Literally: Child’s play!

“Early developmental movement patterns” is the more scientific name for child’s play. It is universally accepted to be the foundation of healthy development. Interesting fact is that highly trained athletes might struggle with many of the most basic movements that children need to master in order to be considered school-ready! How much more likely is it then that we, the general populous, might struggle with the most basic ways to move.

As we struggle to move we become inhibited, because the brain no longer senses safety. As we are inhibited to move – our resilience drops. As our resilience drops so our self esteem drops and symptoms of anxiety, depression, aggression etc. start developing.

In short we can assist the brain to sense safety by starting to move like a baby!! As we feel safe we start moving more which builds resilience. And as we build resilience we start to feel more in control.

Reigniting the early developmental movement patters and combining them with facilitated group work assists with managing anger and aggression; coping with stress; dealing with anxiety and depression; assists with the recovery process from injury, illness or addiction – it is a tool that can be used when going through any life’s challenges to encourage a sense of safety which in turn allows resilience to grow.

For more information on our programme please call Andrea on 0723756089 or email me on info@familycounsellingcentre.co.za

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