Ok, Say You Are a Gazelle: On Finding Peace in the Stress Response
Lets nerd out together!
In our high stimulation world, chances are that most of us are walking around a little overwhelmed and possibly traumatized. "Trauma" sounds very dramatic and over the top, but It is the natural result of an overburdened nervous system, and can occur from seemingly un-traumatic events. It can be fairly simple to resolve as well. I've added links to some resources at the bottom.
The more I know about how I function as an organism, the more I can take care of myself. Awareness is power!
When we get out of fight flight or freeze mode we can go into rest, repair and digest mode. Physiologically speaking, this is where healing happens. (as explained in this brilliant TED talk by Dr. Lissa Rankin).
There's nothing inherently wrong with any of our states, but fear of any of them can keep us stuck, and inhibit our natural ability to move fluidly between them as the need arises. We are human animals and understanding that our bodies are not merely transportation for our rational thought minds can help us find peace and confidence through more of our states.
I would guess that I've spent the majority of the last three years being pretty frozen. I stayed there because the circumstances and events that triggered this response seemed too daunting and over whelming to process. It wasn't until I was told that I didn't have to process them rationally, or re-live the experiences that I was able to begin letting things simply move through and resolve on their own.
It's an ongoing process, and I'm okay with that. I know now that I am neither broken or damaged, and that is comforting, I've gained a lot of respect for my nervous system and all of the physiological and psychological mechanisms that engaged to get me through this difficult time relatively unscathed.
If you are dealing with any Trauma or overwhelm, whether past or current, the main thing is to create a support network. Friends, family, pets, books, compassionate and understanding health professionals... make sure you get what you need. In addition to the wonderful people I've relied on, here are some of the resources I've used along the way.
Peter Levine PHD has written some well researched and incredibly compassionate books on the subject of Trauma. They are contain simple exercises that can be used on kids and adults. I feel like this should be required reading for anyone who deals with children in some capacity. I really enjoyed " Waking the Tiger".
There are also techniques that use acupressure points and self talk that can be helpful. Although, when I used them at first, I was trying to avoid or change my experience of whatever negative thing I was feeling. They work much better as support for moving through whatever our bodies are desperately trying to release.
TAT (Tapas Accupressure Technique) is simple, easy to learn and free online through You tube clips and a PDF booklet.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a nice one that focuses largely on self acceptance (never a bad thing).
Ultimately, the thing to remember is that there is no thought, sensation or emotion that we can't handle. If we relax, and get the support we need we can move through anything.
Happy relaxing to you!
I'm in a whirlwind of inspiration and will be posting pictures of works in progress throughout the week. Stay tuned!
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