We often think of trauma as something that happens to people in accidents, first responders or those who serve in combat zones. Those experiences can lead to trauma but they are not the only causes.
Today’s news often brings feelings of dread and powerlessness. Terrorist attacks, random shootings, multiple natural disasters on a massive scale combine to fill us with worry. Uncertainty and doubt cause stress and anxiety. Information about topics like sexual harassment can also be triggers for those who’ve had experiences like this in the past.
Many of us may feel some trauma from the barrage of world events. This is our reaction to an experience of fear. Our bodies react to times of danger by increasing our adrenaline and preparing us for fight or flight.
Except the danger isn’t literal. We don’t need to run away or physically fight anyone. Our body is sending signals that everything is not okay.
This can show up as:
- Chest pain
- Sleeplessness, insomnia
- Low energy, fatigue
- Nervous stomach
- Neck tension
The best remedy is a combination of two key steps.
First, awareness. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Too often, our instinct is to push through or deny our feelings. We add to the problem by trying to numb ourselves with food, alcohol or medication.*
Take a few minutes when you are feeling stressed or find yourself reaching for another drink to determine what’s happening in the moment. Awareness is key. Pay attention so you can make a better choice.
Give yourself better options. Can you take a walk? Practice meditation and prayer or call a trusted friend. When you can allow your mind and spirit to connect your body will respond as well.
Practice self-care. You only need to admit to yourself what triggers you. If watching the news causes you to feel anxious then limit your time or get an email update that you can scan.
If you have a friend on Facebook who shares the update of every crazy thing that’s happening and it depresses you, then hide those posts or limit your time there.
Make a list of things you can do when you feel the sense of panic or anxiety building.
Here are a few that you can do anywhere, anytime.
- Focused breathing – even 3-5 minutes of eyes closed deep breathing in and out can lower your heart rate, lower blood pressure and restore calm
- Meditate or pray – This can be done before, during and after a stressful time
- Get physical – take a walk, use the stairs at work, practice a couple of yoga poses to help your mind clear
- Connect with nature – go outside and pay attention to the wind in your hair, the feeling of sun on your face or listen to the rustling of leaves
- Listen to guided meditations or music – when we shift our focus from what’s going on “out there” our body can respond in kind
Lastly, if you’ve been suffering with anxiety for a while, or find yourself feeling overwhelmed get help.
I offer private one on one services that can help you incorporate principles for self-care through living consciously.
*If you need medical help or are having acute physical symptoms seek appropriate medical care from your physician