Breaking Free from Hypoarousal: Techniques for Reengaging the Brain

Trauma can have a profound impact on the brain and body. When a person experiences trauma, their body goes into fight, flight or freeze response. This is a natural response to danger, but when it happens repeatedly, it can have long-lasting effects. One of these effects is hypoarousal, which is a state of low arousal and disconnection from the present moment. In this article, we will discuss how to work with hypoarousal and reengage the thinking brain.

What is hypoarousal?

Hypoarousal is a state of low arousal where the person feels disconnected from the present moment. It is a defense mechanism that the body uses to cope with overwhelming stress or trauma. In this state, the person may feel numb, detached, or dissociated from their surroundings. They may also have difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions.

How does hypoarousal affect the brain?

When a person is in a hypoarousal state, their brain is functioning at a lower level than usual. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and other higher-level thinking processes, is less active. This makes it difficult for the person to think clearly, process information, or make decisions. In addition, the amygdala, which is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response, may be overactive. This can cause the person to feel anxious, overwhelmed or scared.

How to work with hypoarousal:

  1. Grounding techniques

Grounding techniques can help a person reconnect with the present moment and feel more present in their body. Some grounding techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and sensory grounding. Sensory grounding involves focusing on the five senses and noticing the sensations in the body.

  1. Movement

Movement can help release the tension and anxiety stored in the body. Exercise, yoga, and dance are all great ways to move the body and reduce stress. Walking in nature or doing other outdoor activities can also help.

  1. Self-care

Self-care is an important part of healing from trauma. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, or spending time with friends can all help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

  1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and noticing thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness meditation, body scans, and other mindfulness practices can help reduce anxiety and increase self-awareness.

Reengaging the thinking brain:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. This can be particularly helpful for people who are struggling with hypoarousal and negative thinking patterns.

  1. EMDR therapy

EMDR therapy is a type of therapy that uses eye movements to help the brain process traumatic memories. This can help reduce the symptoms of hypoarousal and reengage the thinking brain.

  1. Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a type of therapy that uses EEG technology to measure brain activity. This can help people learn how to regulate their brainwaves and improve their cognitive functioning.


Hypoarousal can be a challenging symptom of trauma to manage, but there are many effective strategies that can help. Grounding techniques, movement, self-care, and mindfulness can all help reduce symptoms of hypoarousal and promote relaxation.

Reengaging the thinking brain can involve therapy, such as CBT or EMDR , as well as neurofeedback. It’s important to remember that healing from trauma is a process, and it may take time and effort to reengage the thinking brain and fully recover. With the help of a qualified therapist and a commitment to self-care, however, it is possible to overcome the challenges of hypoarousal and find a path towards healing and growth.