Unmasking Childhood Trauma in Women – How Childhood Trauma Impacts Your Breath And Triggers Trauma-Based Asthma!

Welcome to our blog sanctuary, a space dedicated to the healing journey of women who carry the hidden impacts of childhood trauma and wellbeing in adulthood.

This blog is more than just a collection of posts, it's a refuge for conquering your past, a wellness tool kit for coping and a beacon of hope to turn hidden wounds into new found sources of strength and resilience.

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Meet Alison, her days are often consumed by overthinking and overcommitting, which leaves her emotionally exhausted and fatigued. Despite her outward achievements and success in life, inwardly, she battles with low self-worth and lives in a constant state of self-protection and fear-based living, that even she may not even be aware of!

Did you know… One of the less obvious, yet deeply impactful ways childhood trauma is still affecting Alison today is through her breath. Even 25 years after her challenges in childhood she still struggles daily with asthma and anxiety.

The Science Behind Trauma and Breath Research indicates that traumatic childhood experiences can disrupt the autonomic nervous system (ANS), leading to dysregulated breathing patterns.

This dysregulation can manifest as trauma-based asthma, where heightened stress responses exacerbate asthma symptoms, and in severe cases, can lead to chronic respiratory issues​ (BioMed Central)​​ (Neuroscience News)​.

The reality is when you experience childhood trauma, your body enters a stress response state including – fight, flight, fawn or the freeze response. This response affects your breathing, making it shallow, rapid or even reversed breathing. Over time, these altered breathing patterns can become habitual or heightened when triggered or in stressful moments, even leading to chronic respiratory issues.

How Trauma Affects Your Breath

  1. Trauma-Based Asthma: Childhood trauma can lead to a heightened stress response, which may trigger asthma symptoms. Studies have found that individuals with a history of childhood trauma are more likely to develop asthma or experience worsened symptoms.
  2. Anxiety Attacks: Anxiety often causes hyperventilation. This is where you breathe too quickly and shallow. This breath response can lead to feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, and increased anxiety. This means, in future stressful times you can end up in a vicious, anxiety cycle.
  3. Panic Attacks: During a panic attack, your body goes into overdrive. Rapid breathing, chest tightness, and difficulty catching your breath are all common symptoms. Did you know, these physical responses are deeply tied to the body’s energy memory of your past trauma.
  4. Altered Breathing Patterns: You may develop dysfunctional breathing patterns, such as holding your breath or breathing too shallow. These patterns can persist decades after your childhood challenges and even affect your overall health and well-being.

Recognising the Impact of Trauma on Your Breath

Understanding how trauma affects your breath is the first step towards healing. Here’s five signs that your breathing may be impacted by your childhood trauma:

  1. Frequent Shortness of Breath: Feeling like you can’t catch your breath, even during non-strenuous activities such as walking, yoga or climbing the stairs.
  2. Hyperventilation: Rapid, shallow breathing that can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness.
  3. Chest Tightness: Persistent tightness or discomfort in the chest area.
  4. Breath-Holding: Realising that you often hold your breath without noticing.
  5. Inconsistent Breathing Patterns: Irregular breathing patterns that vary significantly without physical exertion.
  6. Reversed Breathing: This is a breath pattern that on the inhale, instead of expanding the belly, you breathe the belly in and on the exhale you expand the belly. It’s actually the reverse of a normal breathing pattern and is one of the more unusual and rare breath pattern changes. However, adverse childhood experiences can cause the breath pattern before the trauma to change to this, new breath pattern.

5 Quick Wins to Improve Your Breathing and Start Healing

  1. Practice Deep Breathing: Engage in deep, diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen and then chest to rise, and exhale slowly through your nose. Don’t force, go to about 70% to begin with.
  2. Living in the Moment: Incorporate simple breath practices into your daily routine. Focus on your breath and belly and practice 2 minutes, gentle daily breath-work to bring you to presence.
  3. Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help regulate your breath and reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic-attacks. Choose activities to accommodate your wellbeing, for example, if you have an illness such as ME/Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia, choose exercise to support that, such as
  4. yin- yoga, gentle walks or work with a Qigong Instructor who’s also qualified in these fields.
  5. Seek Professional Support: Do your own research and work with a breath-work and women’s childhood trauma specialist, such as myself or other experts in this field. This will help you address the root causes of your breathing issues today, access and learn breathing techniques to help you improve, even correct your breathing pattern.
  6. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Establish calming rituals before bed, such as a 10 minute gentle yoga, light, relaxing reading, or take a warm (not hot) bath before bed. These rituals help your body and nervous system and breath to relax before bed.

Conclusion

Alison’s journey reflects the struggles of many women dealing with the hidden impacts of childhood trauma. If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms, please know you’re not alone.

The first step is to understand that there’s a connection between childhood trauma and your breath. Having awareness of this, will help you to connect the trauma dots together of how it’s still impacting your life today and steps you can take to overcome it.

I‘d love to stay connected and support you even more, you can follow me on Instagram, feel free to drop me a dm and say hi!

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