What is PTSD and How Can Reflexology Help?
PTSD, what is it and how can we help? I personally suffered greatly from PTSD after several traumatic years working as a Paramedic for the BC Ambulance Service while simultaneously trying to navigate an abusive relationship with an extremely unwell man. Although I was riddled with anxiety, I continued to work, even after leaving the relationship. I struggled to find the courage to keep on going to work day after day, but managed to continue on until one day during an ambulance call, that tragically involved a friend of mine. It left him paralyzed from the neck down. This call “threw me over the edge” and I could no longer carry on. I felt traumatized and shaken to my very core. It was a long and slow recovery but now, I can honestly say, that I have mostly recovered, feeling refined through the fire! Reflexology and Reiki have played a big part of my healing journey. Now I am able to help others to overcome their PTSD and move forward in a new and empowered way.
PTSD can develop in two different ways. The first is through prolonged stress and the second being involved in a sudden and traumatic event. Both can range in severity from mild to extremely debilitating. A doctor once told me that PTSD is a physiological disfunction of the sympathetic nervous system and is not a phycological disorder. There are thousands of people, just in our community alone, who are suffering greatly from all levels of PTSD and who are not getting the correct form of therapy. I found for myself that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (although helpful for copying with the emotional component) was not helpful to slow my overactive nervous system down. During PTSD the “fight or flight” part of the nervous system in essence, get's stuck in overdrive and remains there. It is constantly sending danger messages to the entire body causing excessive adrenaline and cortisol to be released, blood being shunted from the digestive system to our muscles and many other physiological effects. People suffering from PTSD often experience flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance symptoms, hyperarousal, tension, insomnia, depression, digestive issues, suicidal ideation, irritability, body pain and more. Often in severe cases leaving the person hiding in their house and unable to cope with even the simplest of tasks.
The nervous system and reflexology. The nervous system is greatly affected by a reflexology treatment since over 7,000 nerve endings are found in each foot. Which translates into a session rich in communication with your nervous system. The feet have more nerves per square inch than any other part of the body. Research shows that the vagus nerve (the body’s major parasympathetic nerve) is directly affected during a reflexology session thereby slowing the heart rate, facilitating digestion and promoting relaxation. Likewise, the solar plexus is a group of nerves near the central diaphragm that is related to the sympathetic system and is often found to be related to stress in clients. It acts as a “message centre” for the sympathetic system (also known in layman’s terms as the fight or flight part of the autonomic nervous system). In this way Reflexology is known for promoting a sense of deep relaxation. When the client is in this state their body repairs, heals and recovers.
Since reflexology speaks directly to the nervous system, it has the power to slow down an overactive sympathetic nervous system and boosts the parasympathetic system enabling the brain to rebalance and find homeostasis. This in turn begins to lessen the symptoms that the client is experiencing.
With a series of weekly treatments (often 4 to 6 weeks is suffice), the brain begins to rebalance and eventually starts to once again function normally, healing the body at the core of the disorder. I’ve found reflexology to be one of the most powerful modalities for lessening anxiety, insomnia, depression, stress and tension and it produces lasting effects.
Most of our clients leave the clinic feeling very relaxed, calm and an over-all feeling of lightness. They usually sleep deeply that night. After each weekly treatment these effects begin to last longer and longer until eventually the symptoms don't return or lessen greatly.
Whether you are suffering from severe PTSD or minor symptoms of prolonged stress, we can help! Book an appointment today and try it out for yourself.