How Pressing RESET Helps Restore Your Mental & Physical Health
May 16, 2022
And now, a guest article by OS Professional, William Sturgeon:
"I believe my life’s purpose is to help teach people who’ve been hurt by life’s adversities how to adapt the skills and tools needed to restore their strength to live a healthier life."
My name is William, and I am a survivor of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). There are so many other brave people who have overcome some horrifying events. My goal is to help them know that they are not broken and are capable of fully recovering from life’s adversities.
The intent of this article is to help spread awareness of how important our mental health is. Addiction and other mental illnesses can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are masked cries for help. There’s no shame in asking for help or being a survivor of life’s adversities. In fact, it’s a symbol of courage & strength because you continued to live, even after you thought you wouldn’t.
I’ve suffered with unhealthy behaviors all my life. I’m alive and healthy today and would like to help bring awareness to mental illness caused by trauma. I would like to begin with some information to help you have a better understanding of ACEs.
Causes of ACEs:
ACEs can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as:
ACEs are caused when you experience trauma which then damages the brain’s prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and brainstem. This damage can lead to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can have some very harmful/deadly consequences if untreated.
After experiencing trauma, your brain begins to restructure itself beginning with changing your beliefs. Beliefs, which are stored in your subconscious mind, are used to create your thoughts. Your thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings control your emotions. Lastly, your emotions influence how you behave based on how you feel. Your behaviors are controlled by your conscious mind, but only if you’re aware of your subconscious beliefs.
For example, if you were raised in a household where a parent struggled with alcoholism, your subconscious mind will think that when someone drinks, their goal is to get drunk. Your conscious mind will say that’s unhealthy and problematic, let’s not do that. But we’re all humans driven by our emotions and our logic is in the passenger seat trying to help navigate.
How Pressing RESET Can Help
Talk therapy and medication can go a long way when it comes to healing, but there are a lot of other tools you can add to your toolbox. Original Strength does a great job of regulating the central nervous system by tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system. When you think about someone who is struggling with CPTSD, what’s happening is that their amygdala has been highjacked which is caused by repetitive stress which can lead to a hypervigilant state or high levels of anxiety.
As someone who’s recovered from past addictions and trauma, I’ve used many forms of therapy and have done an extensive amount of reading and researching to further my understanding of my own experience. Throughout my studies, I have found a lot of similarities in somatic therapies that have been taught to me in fitness courses not knowing the relationship between the two until now. Here are a few RESETS that I believe can help you or someone you love today with reestablishing a healthier relationship with their mind and body.
There are over 100 ways, if not more, on how to breathe, for the sake of simplicity I’ll share the ones that I found most helpful. Before going into those, let’s understand why breathing is going to make the biggest difference. When we look at the mechanics of breathing, we should be utilizing our diaphragm to fully expand the ribs and strengthen the core. What happens when someone is in an episode or state of panic, their autonomic system has been activated, meaning they are in a sympathetic state of breathing which will release hormones into the body such as adrenaline and cortisol.
The body becomes flooded with these chemicals to prepare the body for whatever threat it has detected. This involves the upper chest and cervical muscles being overactive, which limits the use of the diaphragm. When breathing becomes impacted the core becomes weak and it can lead to low back and shoulder pain from the core's inability to stabilize the body during movement.
Lastly, when you are in a state of sympathetic breathing your amygdala is overstimulated, in order to regulate it you must get the autonomic nervous system back into a parasympathetic state which can begin the stages of healing and regulation. As we have learned through the OS coursework how vital breathing is and the impact it can have on the clients we work with. Breathing can help a person regulate their nervous system which can put their mind and body at ease.
The OS breathing RESETS I have gained the best results from are the baseline breathing position, knees bent position, knees to chest, and deep rocking position, which were some of my favorite positions to breathe in. The breathing count would vary depending on the state of distress I was in, sometimes it was simple in and out, other times I would inhale at a 4 count, pause for a 4 count, and exhale at a 6 count.
We use the eyes to control the movement in head control RESETS, which utilizes the ocular nerve that helps with stimulating the vestibular system. With the eyes moving in a bilateral direction going from side to side, it can simulate the sensation we get when we are in REM sleep.
REM sleep is rapid eye movement that taps into the thalamus, which is similar to a relay station of all incoming motor and sensory information such as images, sounds, taste, and touch. The thalamus is where the brain can store memories, interpret lessons, balance moods, and also processes survival information from traumatic experiences.
In my own experience with healing, I have and continue to use Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) also known as Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) which is a newly discovered form of nontraditional psychotherapy. This is similar to REM sleep, except that the person is conscious the whole time and is able to process their trauma with conscious awareness.
Pressing RESET with the full use of your visual senses has helped with regulating my thoughts when distress has occurred. This can be done in many positions, but most importantly is that you’re actively engaged with the ocular nerve by seeing the objects in the room you’re in, the colors you see, and other visuals that are brought into your awareness which helps with grounding you as well because you’re bringing cognitive awareness to your present moment.
Your skin is the largest organ of the body which helps with protecting you and also feeling physical sensations. When a person has experienced trauma, the brain has the ability to dissociate from what’s happening in order to survive the experience. When the brain detaches and disassociates from the body it can be difficult to restore the relationship with one's body. Bessel Van Der Kolk has an amazing book called “The Body Keeps The Score” with a tremendous amount of information regarding how your brain, mind, and body experience trauma and how to heal from it.
One of the things I remember taking away from one of the OS courses was how rolling can simulate the same sensation of a hug. This is done by the tactical feedback one receives from being on the ground and feeling the resistance of the floor from the pressure that it applies to the body. When you are practicing rolling patterns they replicate physical sensations in the body that can help with reestablishing the mind-body connection. Another great RESET is bird dogs because of the hands and feet being grounded to the floor by being active in the movement. This helps with bringing more physical awareness to the body.
Cross crawling as we know is rather challenging for a lot of people because we are asking them to perform a conscious effort toward something we do unconsciously. For example, walking comes natural for many people and requires contralateral movement. This type of movement is seen in movements such as cross crawls, dead bugs, bird dogs, and any other RESET that requires the person to cognitively think about moving in a contralateral movement.
How does this help with healing and soothing the mind? Well, when a person has been triggered, meaning that their body has sensed a possible threat from either sight, sound, touch, smell, etc. their amygdala has been high jacked and is in a high level of hyperawareness. This can make cognitive functions difficult, which is why some people who have been triggered to act in certain ways that would be confusing for others. When a person is experiencing a triggering sensation, they can self-soothe by using breathing to begin to calm the nervous system into a more parasympathetic state.
They can then use cross crawling and other similar patterns to help them regain cognitive function because of how much neurological effort is required to perform these resets. It can help by giving them a task to focus on that gives me a sense of regaining control in their body and mind.
In summary, I want to let people know that it’s not their fault for what they’ve been through in life. After all of the rough spots in life, you can regain the pieces of yourself. You can pick it up and start again because you’re always able to reclaim yourself and go back to who you were no matter what. Rather than judging someone and asking them, “Why are you doing this?” when they are suffering from an addiction or unhealthy behaviors ask, “What happened to you?” We are all worthy of compassion and love, the only way we can help others is by showing them what they may not have been given.