Infidelity Healing – Touch To Calm Nervous System

How can I calm my nervous system?

The first step towards healing our stressed-out and anxious minds is to calm our bodies. Throughout this Infidelity Healing Series, we look at several simple techniques to restore calm: affirmationsmusic and sound, nature, therapeutic scents, and more practical tips. Today I want to encourage you to tap into your body’s own healing ability through touch. Keep reading

The Infidelity Healing Series

Here, the Betrayed Wife shares her gift of an Infidelity Healing Series. The eight posts in this Series are full of practical and easy-to-use solutions that reduce the anxiety of being cheated on. Take your time reading and applying each technique to begin the difficult recovery after intimate betrayal.

The Infidelity Healing Series is a labor of love from The Betrayed Wife to every betrayed wife.  Why? Because she knows first-hand how hard it is to get over infidelity, and is here to support your recovery every step of the way.

After discovering our husband's infidelity, life as a betrayed wife can become unbearable. The anxious thoughts and betrayal trauma take a toll on our emotional and physical well-being. Every day is a repeating nightmare where we experience the most painful losses of our relationship: trust and faith in ourselves. The simple self-healing techniques in this Infidelity Healing Series will help stop our stress response and restore our inner and physical well-being.

Begin your infidelity healing now:

Reset your nervous system

Stress and trauma are not just in our minds. They affect every part of our body:

  • Our nerves get fried.
  • Our digestive system shuts down.
  • Our remaining stress hormones can cause disease.

When our thoughts and experiences feel unsafe daily, our bodies take their toll. If you don't feel safe, your body will shift into a constant state of stress. That sense of safety gets felt in our whole body, from how we breathe to how we hold ourselves. Positive touch, however, can help us heal.

Reestablish a sense of safety

In my betrayal recovery experience, touch has been an essential healing technique. I have always enjoyed getting massages. Most women do unless they have some history of abuse. Everyone's personal experience and preference for touch are important to understand. My partner and I have discussed how he can support my healing, and he knows touch is an effective technique for me.

An example of touch to calm my stressed nervous system

Since we are in lockdown here on my little island, it has been several weeks since I have been able to get a massage. So my partner created a loving surprise for me. He set up pillows and a blanket on the floor in front of the fire without me knowing. He put on peaceful music and invited me for a no-strings-attached oil massage. Yummy! I felt so loved. And I have enjoyed the benefits of his touch all week.

An Overactive Sympathetic Nervous System

Unfortunately, after infidelity, our bodies can become frozen in a state of anxiety even when we are totally safe. Anxiety can cause our brains to see danger everywhere, keeping us in a cycle of stress and overwhelm. Making sure that we are safe is our brain’s job and is essential for survival. However, living in a constant place of anxiety exhausts our nervous system. As a result, it robs our bodies of the energy we need to live our best lives.

Fight, Flight or Freeze

We must be intentional in shutting down our fight, flight, freeze, fit-in and fawn states. Otherwise, our nervous system can get stuck in the habit of always being activated. And over time, this can become our normal state. We get stuck living in what we know without realizing its impact on us.

Stuck in Stress Response

When dealing with betrayal trauma, our bodies get stuck in the stress response. Every day all day, we encounter the same devastating emotional triggers. And new situations touch on unhealed wounds held in our minds and hearts. As a consequence, our body lives in a cycle of constant stress. Even when there is no present genuine threat in our immediate environment, we stay in a stressful state. Unfortunately, the many losses, grief, triggers, and intrusive thoughts push us into stress and anxiety.

To sum it up, I call this living in a state of surviving rather than thriving. We become disconnected from ourselves and the other important people in our lives. It robs us of the ability to productively engage in our lives, the world, and even our healing. And it can blind us to seeing our innate problem-solving skills. We attempt to control our circumstances from this state rather than creatively engaging with them to activate change.

Activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System

On the other hand, our nervous system has a built-in calming response. It is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Our body releases different hormones automatically when there is no threat. Under normal circumstances, our bodies restore calm quickly. As a result of infidelity, memories and ongoing thoughts and triggers interfere with the natural processes of calm. Nevertheless, we can learn how to work around this challenge.

We can connect with this fantastic message transport system through touch, breath, smell, and sound.

Parasympathetic Activities - Touch 

Touch is a straight forward simple way to activate the parasympathetic system. And it's a beautiful way of reducing our infidelity stress. Our vagal nerve transports messages from our body to our brain all the time. Tapping into this critical nerve that runs through our body is a powerful way to tell our brains to calm down.

The technique of touch stimulates the vagus nerve to return to a state of calm. It reduces the tension held throughout the entire body. Touch and our brains' neuroplasticity allow our bodies to stop sensing danger.

Touch doesn't fix everything all at once. But as we mindfully connect with our bodies regularly, even in small ways, we make small steps toward helping our brains feel safe after infidelity. Feeling safe happens when our bodies relax and let go of the stress they are holding.

Physical touch makes us feel safe

Being present and mindful slows our breath. And this puts us in a place of controlling what we do have control over; ourselves. It supports our ability to adapt to our environment and stressful situations by building resilience and coping skills. Taking time to bring soothing touch to our bodies constructively supports us by helping our bodies feel safe. Massaging, stroking, holding, and pressing can all induce a feeling of safety in our bodies. Feeling safe is the single most significant factor in healing our infidelity trauma.

" Feeling safe is the single most significant factor in healing our infidelity trauma." 

Ways to stimulate the parasympathetic system with touch

When the touch receptors in our skin get positively stimulated, they signal safety to the emotional cortex in our brain. Infidelity trauma stimulates the fear center of our brain. Positive touch can block the overactive fear center. We can accomplish this with others or independently whenever we need to reassure a sense of safety.

  • self soothing strokes
  • rubbing scented lotion on hands
  • tapping
  • wrapping 
  • a handshake
  • holding hands
  • a loving embrace
  • trauma or therapeutic massage

Our bodies are extremely sensitive to being touched. The tragic results of insufficient touch were observed in babies failing to thrive or even survive. Human contact through touch is critical for our emotional health as it helps us feel connected. Being connected is an essential human need. Therefore, feeling connected helps us reduce stress, recover from pain, engage in life, and sleep better.

The sense of touch to calm anxiety and heal trauma

It is not the cure-all for our pain, but it is another tool we can use to help ourselves heal. The healing comes as a result of how touch makes us feel. Healing infidelity trauma is an inside-out job. We heal as we create an internal state that allows healing to happen. Learning to access our body’s wisdom and ability to heal through our self-care tools sends the message to our brain that we will recover. The pain we feel today will not be how we will always feel.

The more we use mindful touch to reduce the stress in our bodies, the more our nervous systems tune into touch as a way to rewire our brains and calm us down. Positive touch enhances our ability to recover from infidelity trauma and stress. The more we engage in ways to support ourselves, the better we get at using them to help us heal. Being calm and relaxed helps us regulate our emotions more effectively. 

Using touch techniques for betrayal trauma

After finding out my husband had an affair, his touch felt unsafe. Contact with him actually caused anxiety. Then my body would go into a stress state. As desperate as I was to be held, I did not feel safe letting him touch me. I had to adopt other ways of telling my body that I was receiving positive touch. I did the following...

  • Wrapping a towel around my shoulders and pulling it tight around my back gave my body the same signals as if I were being hugged.
  • Massaging my hands with an essential oil-infused cream sent the message to my brain that my hand was being held.
  • Stroking my upper arms, hands, and cheeks lightly with my fingertips also activated a calming response in my body.
  • Booking weekly massages was an investment in my mental and physical health while I grieved the losses infidelity brought.
  • Taking extra time in the shower, mindfully letting the hot water massage my shoulders and neck, also helped relax the tension out of my muscles.
  • Giving my face and body mindful attention while applying moisturizers or sunblock sent positive sensory messages to my brain.

You can supply the soothing touch you need any time you feel stressed or anxious to help yourself return to a state of calm. 

And if we are reconciling with our partners or have willing friends, we can ask to be held, stroked, or massaged. Often others want to support us but are not sure how. Their touch can be instrumental in changing our internal state so that healing can occur.

I would love to hear how you have used touch to support your infidelity healing. Please leave a comment below. And if you need support start with a free coaching call with  me, a certified betrayal recovery coach. You don't have to take this journey alone. To support your healing further, please try this mindful body scan and read more about the self-care course here

Much love, 

Yours on the Journey
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About the Author

I am a certified life coach and relationship facilitator with a passion for supporting women who have been impacted by infidelity. Drawing on my personal experiences and deep insights, I am dedicated to helping my clients heal from the trauma of betrayal and reclaim their lives.

Through one-on-one coaching, I am committed to providing a safe, supportive space for women to process their emotions and move forward after infidelity. You can find me in my vegetable garden or taking long walks in nature with my dog when I'm not working. Read more about  the betrayed wife's personal infidelity story...