March 5, 2020

Staying Resilient During Difficult Times

When we get overwhelmed with fear, our autonomic nervous system becomes activated — whether the threat is real or perceived. We go into survival mode: we fight, flee, freeze, or give up. Many of us have nervous systems that are highly activated do to frequent stress and pervasive fears.

We are constantly ‘on,’ meaning we’re on high alert. We may feel anxious, tense, reactive, defensive, irritable, numb, or shutdown. When that happens, the part of the nervous system in charge of relaxation and returning to a feeling of safety needs help to regulate. With a regulated nervous system we are able to respond mindfully and creatively to challenges.

Here are some suggestions to soothe our nervous systems:

Exhale. Breathe. Slow down. Feel your breathing in your belly and let your awareness rest in your belly.

Notice you surroundings by moving your head and neck. Notice visual details, shapes, colors, and orient yourself in your environment.

Come into the present moment. Use your senses. Focus on seeing, listening, smelling, tasting, and touching. Observe your internal sensations and connect with your body.

Focus on your routine and keep things simple. Attend to your basic needs like sleeping, drinking water, eating well and connecting with yourself and others.

Limit news intake, particularly stimulating visuals.

Observe what is stable — including the ground you walk on, the chair you sit on, what you can rely on. Note what is good and true in your life. Take in who and what you love.

Notice what you are in charge of, what choices you have and what you can change.

Keep it simple. Focus on one thing.

Make contact with people. Connect in person. Share. Gather. Hug. Hold hands.

Connect with the truth in yourself and others – in person, through book and art. Listen, read, or watch something uplifting and get inspired. Find news sources you can trust.

Allow yourself to experience your emotions. Move, Dance, Walk. Be still. Connect with a practice such at meditating or a movement practice. Start a practice if you don’t yet have one.

Fear needs purpose and direction. Connect with it. Ground in it. Contemplate it. Practice deep listening. Let fear become the courage that moves you. Inside and out.

And when you’re ready, move into action. Get involved. With purpose. With a group.

Repeat. Repeatedly.

Find out more about the author:

Karin Weidenmueller

Gestalt and EMDR therapist

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