Shaking off stress: the benefits of TRE®

Shaking off stress: the benefits of TRE®
Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev / Unsplash

I am often asked how TRE® can help. Most commonly, questions relate to stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed. In particular, women in perimenopause or menopause are increasingly interested in how they can help themselves to face the multitude of experiences and symptoms at this changing time of their lives. Many of my clients seek support at this time. In addition, the frantic pace of life leaves many people feeling burnt out and wanting to find ways to help themselves. The reported benefits of TRE® are diverse and tackle many of these areas (and more), as identified below:

TRE® also appeals to people who are interested in addressing stress, tension and/or trauma through a body-based approach. This often follows, or is in combination with, talking therapy. The fact you can learn how to do TRE® and then use it as a self-help tool, makes it a powerful and affordable option for many people. It is useful to have a practitioner guide you as you start your journey with TRE® as this allows you to learn the exercises that support the tremoring process in a grounded way, as well as supporting regulation of the nervous system. Practitioners may also suggest interventions that can support tremors to move around the body, if appropriate.

I started practising TRE® the year after my lung was removed and I was looking for a way to reconnect with my body and support its healing. I began with three one-to-one sessions with a wonderful practitioner and then moved to small group sessions. Each approach has its merits. As a practitioner, one to one sessions allow bespoke tailoring to a particular person; it is a wonderful way to learn the exercises, experience shaking and connect with your body. This also allows lots of feedback between the practitioner and person undertaking TRE® in a reassuring and focused environment.

TRE® was designed by David Berceli as a group intervention and this is where much of its power lies. The opportunity to connect with other people's nervous systems in a regulated way, whilst also supporting you to connect with your body/release tension really supports humans as a community-based, social species. TRE® works with our primitive responses and the society dimension is very powerful. We are animals and TRE® uses this as shown in the video below:

So, what is my personal experience....

I recognise many of the benefits in the above list. Overall, TRE® helps me to stay grounded/reground when times are difficult and helps me to maintain a sense of perspective. I am less likely to 'sweat the small stuff' and engage with difficult situations without becoming as activated or staying activated. I also sleep well. That said, I'm not Pollyanna...

Polly·anna[pɒlɪˈanə] NOUN

an excessively cheerful or optimistic person: "what I am saying makes me sound like some ageing Pollyanna who just wants to pretend that all is sweetness and light"

I have natural responses to challenges but my regular TRE® practice has taught me that these responses are what my nervous system is designed to do and I can bring myself back down the activation curve when I am getting irritated or panicky (e.g. my fight and flight responses kick in). For more information on this, see Stephen Porges Polyvagal Theory. I also allow myself to feel more and meet challenges head on.

There is much that I do not remember about my lung operation. However, I realise that I dissociated from a lot of what happened and I'm appreciative of my body's capacity to do this to keep me safe during an uncertain and traumatic time. TRE® now helps me to feel present. Anyone who has experienced cancer, will be familiar with 'scanxiety' - the anxiety around scans and medical appointments whilst you wait for results. This has been one area that TRE® has really helped me with. I am much calmer waiting for results, using TRE® to shake out tension before and as an ongoing self-help tool. It helps me to stay present and not disappear down the rabbit hole of 'what ifs'.

One thing that I am often asked is: when will I feel the benefits? TRE® is not an overnight cure and results can be difficult to pinpoint specifically to it. That said, people often do feel calmer straightaway after a session - like they have reset their nervous system. It is over time that they then notice changes in their responses to events and difficulties, e.g. I would have shouted then/I would have panicked then/I wouldn't have been able to do that. It is also worth mentioning that it is also possible to feel worse for a while when you start TRE®. If you are someone who has dissociated to protect yourself (entering a dreamy disconnected state or feeling numb), it can feel tricky when you start to feel and connect with your body. This is a temporary experience - the idea that sometimes things get a little worse before they get better - and with a carefully titrated approach (going slowly, shaking for a short time and resting to integrate the effects), the longer term impact is positive for people, in my experience.

I am sure that TRE® has supported my recovery physically, mentally and emotionally. It is lovely to receive messages from clients who tell me about changes they have noticed. Sometimes these might appear small to someone else but are huge to them. That is, in essence, the beauty and power of TRE®. It meets the person where they are, is completely bespoke and gives power back to the body to do what it needs. If you are interested in what TRE® could do for you, have a look at the services and contact page of my blog and get in touch via