Feeling Overwhelmed & Stressed
In the Roaring Fork Valley, mental health services are limited; especially for Spanish speaking persons. And even if someone was capable of accessing these services, chances are they are cost prohibitive. Many teens report having stress and anxiety and statistics show that many will or have experienced some form of trauma in their early lives.
So what are teens to do when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just need to let go? Every week Garfield County PREP interns meet to learn new skills in their quest to advocate for and develop healthy life skills. This week they were introduced to Trauma Releasing Exercises, aka TRE, for stress and anxiety relief.
Trauma Releasing Exercises for Tension Release
Thanks to Family Visitor Programs’ board member Betsy Bowie, PREP interns learned the seven exercises needed to prepare the muscles for tremoring as a mechanism to release tension from the psoas muscles initially. As practice continues and improves, the body becomes conditioned to release tension above the pelvic area as well. No, these teens aren’t twerking! They’re building stress in the legs and buttocks. With laughter, of course!
Being teens, they inevitably found ways to distract themselves from the building tension in their muscles during the exercise where you sit against a wall as if you were in a chair. As the tension builds to about a 7, you are instructed to rise a few inches and keep going. Modifications were also offered for those who suffer from injury.
Let the Tremors Begin
Once the muscles were primed through trauma releasing exercises, we took our places on the floor and let the tremoring release begin. Betsy guided us slowly and carefully with instructions on how to make it stop if one becomes uncomfortable for any reason. All we had to do was straighten our legs and flex our toes toward the ceiling. Once comfortable to proceed again, she showed us how you resume the tremoring with the ability to increase and decrease the movements and intensity.
After about an hour and a half of learning the philosophy and then practicing, we took some time for reflection and journaling. Interns had been asked to note a number 1 thru 10 before we started on their level of stress and then asked to look inward to note where that number was afterwards. This is what one teen journaled and agreed to share:
“When we first started out this exercise, my number of stress was at a 5. I felt this way because of the stress from not having been productive the past few days and residual stress from my previous trip. There wasn’t much pain during the exercise. The tremoring experience was quite strange. I could quickly feel my body shaking but my mind felt like I needed to stop it. I definitely feel far more relaxed and calmed down. Something else I noticed was the reduced pain in my back which I had noticed at the beginning of the exercise. It would be helpful for me to use it before I sleep in order to get better rest. I’ll attempt to do this again at home and discover the different results.”
Thumbs Up to TRE
Trauma Releasing Exercise is not your mainstream exercise or stress relief routine yet all the interns gave it a thumbs up! They can pack this healthy life skill in their toolbox and carry it with them throughout their life’s journey which will inevitably include some stressful or traumatic moments in need of release.