Categories
Aerial photography Anxiety Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance letting go of fear Stress

7 Anxiety Relief Techniques That Work

How to Quickly Reduce Stress in a Crisis

Take a moment to look at situations in a stable, rational way and adjust your perspective. Instead of investing your emotions in anxiety and stress, stop, pause and direct your responses to be calm and solution focused. Accept reality without fatiguing or exasperating yourself. Radical Acceptance is an anxiety relief technique to accept reality, even when it’s challenging and downright painful. During my work as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Counsellor, I teach others to learn necessary habits needed to relieve stress and anxiety, and maintain healthy mental health habits. The human condition has an ability for joy, love and happiness, but we all face challenges, disappointments and uncertainty along the way as a part of our life journey.

Take Charge and Shift Your Mindset

In this complex and unstable world we need to have tools. Our prehistoric brain highlights fear, anxiety and negativity and works against us. Take charge through daily practice of re-framing thoughts and shift your mindset. Productive thinking boosts self-esteem and puts the clutter of negative thoughts in the trash where they belong. Our primal survival instincts get triggered, scanning in our environment for danger. Then we scare ourselves with irrational fear thoughts such as if the worst came true we would fall apart. We think when we go through a trauma or loss we are alone, but this is not true, our primal nature is to support one another with compassion. Use that same skill to have self compassion towards yourself. This lowers cortisol the stress hormone, and increases resilience during stressful events.

Acknowledge Painful Feelings

Recognize fear thoughts and replace them with safe and comforting thoughts by firmly directing your mind. Change and loss is natural and can lead to personal growth. Uncertainty can mean you’re on the right track and are opening yourself to new opportunities. When you use your imagination during a tough change or painful event to see the good and imagine that you’re creating something better in that space, you are changing the neural pathways in your brain. Acknowledge difficult and painful feelings as they come up and know this will change.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where stands in times of challenge and controversy” Martin Luther King

Focus on How This Change Brings You a New Perspective

A challenge is an opportunity when you look at it with a brand new perspective. If you are going through a tough change, find the good that came from it. When you visualize a positive outcome and move forward, it does not mean you erase the memory from your mind. You are now focusing on how this change brings alternative possibilities. It may have given you the gift of wisdom, knowing you’re resilient or an increased understanding of yourself. Acknowledge the fear and the courage it took to move forward. Looking for the good does not negate what happened to you. With your eye on a positive outcome you can gain perspective, and this will shift you into a better state of mind.

Develop True Grit During Tough Situations

When you put pressure on yourself to achieve a goal, your brain does its best to step up to the changing conditions. By changing habits, for example, you are perturbing the equilibrium of what was normal. Instead of going into high anxiety after a change, practice calming skills such as deep breathing, which connects you with your vagus nerve. Your reactive brain wants to go back to being the same and fear drives it. Welcome personal growth challenges under pressure to develop resiliency and develop a sense of true grit when the going gets tough. Train yourself to stay calm with forward moving energy. This provides stability during a sudden change or threat in your environment. You can learn how to be productive even during a crisis. This is something that takes practice as our brain is reactive. If you allow it to overreact with challenges, the flood of cortisol and adrenaline can deplete your energy. 

Put the Challenge into Perspective with Others

As humans, we can reassure and support others. Engage your community with empathy by putting things in perspective, as this regulates emotions. Respond compassionately to somebody in distress. Without getting anxious with them respond with caring and connection. If you dive right in and become upset with them experiencing negative emotions, this can cause overwhelm. Respond with genuine warmth and concern expressing compassion. Sometimes bearing witness to their pain with empathy is all that someone needs. Put the challenge into perspective and offer decision-making skills. With practice you can nurture other people in their time of need by offering them the gift of your wise self with your supportive words. Helping others with warmth and compassion releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is a hormone that promotes feelings of love, bonding and well-being. 

Persistence,Courage and Strength

We need determination and endurance in life. Sometimes we need to tolerate pain and frustration, and during this time we need persistence and courage. Practice feeling strong by ignoring past hurt, perceived failures and let downs. Forge ahead and stop giving power to the past. Redirect yourself and focus only on the positive goal you wish to accomplish.

The Heart is the CEO

Remember that the heart is the CEO, and can quickly bring you to a state of ease. Instead of trying to master your worry thoughts ruled by the cognitive part of your brain, learn to re-calibrate to a belief of safety and refuge through regulating your heart rhythm. In my experience, this is the deepest and most permanent way to feel better. When you do heart focused breathing, you put your heart in a coherent state with thoughts of joy, love, appreciation, gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. This is a higher level of thinking which puts your heart rhythm in a smooth even wave. If you stay in a lower level state of anger, despair and anxiety your heart rhythm is in an incoherent state or in a jagged wave which can cause stress-related disorders.

Shift Out of Your Primal Fear State

At any point in time we are in our primal fear state which is the fight flight zone of the sympathetic nervous system or we are in the healing and powerful state of the parasympathetic zone of the nervous system. This means we connect with the benefit of the restorative vagus nerve. Our primal brain limits us with fear, insecurities, doubts, worries and anxieties, as this is the cognitive part of our brain which is a lower level state. When we are overthinking things and getting into a worry loop, this can be mentally draining and effect health. At any point in time we have the choice to shift out of this primal fear state into the higher and healthier state of our heart’s intelligence, connecting with joy, creativity and inspiration.

Call to Action

1) Make it your personal challenge to stay calm despite misfortune and set an intention that you are strong and serene. This prevents our amygdala or our emotion centre from irrational over response. Accept life’s uncertainty and develop a calm response pattern overtime. Stay solution focused and calm when waters get turbulent in life. Equanimity takes training and practice, as our primal brain is normally reactive to keep us safe from harm.

2) Find music with a strong rhythmic beat. Music is a right-brain exercise, where nonverbal creativity, intuition, and perception live. Immerse yourself in a challenging and creative project. Distress and stress are a left-brain activity with solving mental tasks, problem solving and analyzing. The left brain can get fatigued, stressed, and strained. Engage your right brain with creativity to relieve distress.

3) Have compassion for others and use this same skill to have self compassion towards yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. This lowers cortisol the stress hormone, and increases resilience during stressful events. Compassion releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is a hormone that increases well-being.

4) Sit where you can be uninterrupted for 3 minutes. Close your eyes and visualize yourself calm through mental rehearsal. Imagine what a composed person looks like and have an image of yourself as calm. The breath has both emotional and physical benefits. Oriental meditators believe breathing is the secret to longevity as it eases the strain on both the heart and vital organs. Learn to breathe and stay composed during unpleasant events and emotional upset. Easy, rhythmic breathing patterns can get you through challenging times.

5) Ride the wave with 4×4 breathing until the distress has passed. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4, hold for 4. Comparable to a wave, the emotion will appear intense, reach its peak, then pass and dissipate. 

6) Seek and find positive experiences for brain health, even in the middle of hardship and pain. Wonderful facts are still around you, even when life is difficult. With practice this builds strength, resilience, and boosts feel good brain chemistry such as serotonin. This benefits brain structure and health.

7) Whenever you are in your monkey mind with your thoughts are racing out of control understand that you are in a primal state and notice your negative inner dialogue. Say to yourself “OK, I am in a primal unhealthy state and I am now going to my powerful higher level state.” Put your hand on your heart, do heart focused breathing and know that your higher level of intelligence lies in the intuitive voice of your heart. Remember, your heart provides wiser counsel than the inaccurate primal chatter of the brain when under stress.

About the Author

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:

https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt

Categories
Distress Tolerance happiness Stress

4 Effective Habits of Happiness to Relieve Stress and Navigate Your Mind Toward Health and Well-Being

Make Happiness Your New Foundation

Train your heart and brain to make happiness your new foundation. There will still be challenges, but you will create a new baseline in your heart, brain and nervous system for happiness instead of stress. This new benchmark will increase your resilience and be an inspiration to others. The new habits you adopt make this baseline a possibility with our current knowledge of neuroplasticity. The brain changes according to its experience, and you can take charge and navigate your mind toward health and well-being.

“Take responsibility of your own happiness, never put it in other people’s hand’s” Roy T. Bennett author of “The Light in the Heart”

Acknowledge Your Stressors


Expressing happiness and enthusiasm is an inspiration to others in our fast-paced digital world where there is always something on the horizon. We have round-the-clock news reporting on the ineptitude of governments, storms, wildfires to wars, fatalities and now the coronavirus. Rapidly advancing technology brings with it the pressure to shape up and align ourselves to ever-changing trends on Instagram and Facebook. People are continually in search of likes and validation through social media. There is a long list of stressors that impedes our inner peace.

Strive for contentment despite what happens around you. We have an illusion that circumstances, places, trips, cars, purchases and more money will make us happy. These are short-lived boosts we believe validates who we are. Put your energy into your values, what is meaningful, and gravitate towards what will last.

You Are a Chameleon


A chameleon has perfected the art of camouflage through changing its colour and adapts to its changing environment with resilience. Similar to this old world lizard, our wise and resilient mind leads to genuine happiness through simple daily practices.

Call to Action:

1)Recognize and Reframe

When you notice stress is developing, select methods to neutralize it before it escalates. Redirect your mind to recognize negative thoughts and reframe them. Steer yourself away from crippling beliefs and distorted thoughts that have you confined. These are mistaken ideas which we have created which inhibit us from achieving our goals. Learn to reframe thoughts through effective and positive affirmations. Get hold of these limiting notions and don’t allow your emotions to control you.

Say Stop;Reframe


Notice negative thoughts. An example would be “I can never seem to get this done” to “I am doing this easily and effortlessly.” Say to yourself, stop and reframe. Find a new way, no matter how challenging it is, to find one element of good in your situation. We become what we envision the most. Having fear as a guide impacts thoughts, influencing your abilities. Talk to that fearful person inside yourself; ask him or her to sit this one out so you may take full charge. When you alter your mindset to give yourself happy thoughts, you change your brain chemistry, heart rhythm and improve health and wellbeing.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love


It is unfortunate that we work less on lightheartedness and latch onto more stress. Anxiety and stress has turned into our default setting, and we have made that our new normal, becoming accustomed to fear as the familiar voice. Reroute your intellect towards a happier default setting for health and wellness.

2)Understand Fear of Happiness and Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm and happiness can be a source of fear, as we might dread being out of control. Our negativity bias scans for the worst, which causes anxiety. We perceive being too happy and positive might upset other people, or someone may perceive it as abnormal. But this idea is far from the truth. It is our brain’s primal natural tendency and need for safety that keeps pushing us towards familiar negative thoughts. 


Fear of being happy crosses many generations. We search for a hazard to arrive, and over time, projecting this culture of negativity completes a cycle of doom. This doesn’t mean that we ignore adversity, loss and pain. It means educating our upcoming resilient, wise and peaceful generation to have compassion for themselves and others. Establishing happiness as a foundation is a valuable achievement. Learn a set of higher level emotions such as joy, love, appreciation, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion to reduce fear and anxiety.

Photo by Jakob Owens 

3)Understand the Science of How Happiness Affects Your Heart

Heart coherence means your heart, brain and nervous system are in sync, which results in a smooth even heart rhythm and neurochemistry that improves mood. Studies show you can influence another’s heart rhythm by staying coherent yourself. The happier your state is, the lighter the mood is of those around you. Happiness and a genuine smile is contagious. Our relationship to joy is a responsibility for ourselves and others. Fear and negative emotions is contagious and has a ripple effect. Sometimes we have a false belief that if we’re not suffering or anxious, we are falling short and not doing enough. We have many generations of worriers. But by making happy our new normal, we help new generations to develop reservoirs of strength and resilience.  

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery-air, mountains, trees, people. I thought this is what it is to be happy” Sylvia Plath author of “The Bell Jar”

4)Lean into a Happiness Habit Each Day


New lifestyle patterns such as reading inspirational material, Heartmath exercises, and mindfulness practice resources, help you gain insight into your brain’s neuroplasticity, which can cause lasting change. Repetition is the key to working beyond our reptilian brain that wants to stay fearful, negative and afraid. You have everything within you to recondition your brain to discover joy and happiness.

Get revved up on what you will do next, and focus on an idea that sparks your creativity and excitement. This creates a powerful positive force you can rely upon to keep pushing you forward. Think of this energy as emanating from an untapped precious source. This impacts vitality and health.

Once you are aware of this precious resource within, it becomes our responsibility to use them for the health benefits of our bodies. We often mistake excitement with fear. Transform your fear energy into forward-moving solutions and make whatever task you need to do easier. Make happiness your new revolution. Enjoy every minute of your journey and make your life a beautiful song.

About the Author:

https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt
Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.

Categories
anger Anxiety assertiveness Conflict resolution Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance happiness letting go of fear

Reset Your Anger and be a Class Act With These 6 Skills

Gabe had a history of angry outbursts, and was staring at the smoking ruins of his marriage. He was a foreman for a large construction company, and his blind irrational fury with his employees, resulted with a large group of them quitting. When I met him, Gabe and his wife were separated as a result of his out of control anger issues, and he was well known for his yellow jacket temper. He had become addicted to rage, and it flared swiftly like a twister cloud. He blamed everyone around him for his state of mind. It’s safe to say I was meeting Gabe at his lowest of lows, and he was seeking Anger Management exercises. His doctor told him he had high blood pressure and if he didn’t manage his anger, he would be on his way to coronary artery disease.


“Hello Gabe,” I said with a warm smile, motioning him to a chair near the window.

“Very often in everyday life one sees that by losing ones’s temper with someone who has already lost his, one does not gain anything but only sets out upon the path of stupidity. He who has enough self control to stand firm at the moment when the other person is in a temper wins in the end” Hazrat Inayat Khan author of Mastery Through Accomplishment


He glowered at me, his fists were clenched. I didn’t need to guess what his feelings were as they were written all over his face. He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair looking at me sideways. “I don’t know why I need therapy, it’s those guys that need their head fixed!” he growled. Immediately, he launched into a tirade of complaints about his employees. By this point he’d already been to traditional Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for several years. He knew his way around the therapy block, but something wasn’t working for him, this was evident. His quick temper always rebounded without improvement. Anger always been his primary addiction, and it swung around him in drunken circles.


“What are you going to tell me that I don’t already know?” he snarled, the slow glow of anger working up from his collar to his face.

An Effective Alternative to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

“It’s what I will show you,” I said, as I organized the power points and biofeedback screen on my computer. 

The Science of the Heart by Doc Childre is an evidence-based approach used by the HeartMath Institute in which researchers study human thoughts, emotions, and behaviours through studying the heart rhythm. I showed him diagrams of the science of the heart and brain and nervous system and explained what anger did to his heart rhythm and biochemistry. I then showed him his heart rhythm on the computer biofeedback screen, and showed him how he could change his chaotic rhythm to a smooth even wave, and improve his health. Towards the end of the counselling session with Gabe, after utilizing heart focused breathing, his facial expressions and posture changed drastically. One month later, after a combined effort of Biofeedback combined with my shortened version of Mindfulness Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Gabe’s wife approached me in my office.

“What did you say to my husband?” she exclaimed as she peered in the door.

I paused, and took in a breath my eyes wide open, scanning my mind.

“He has changed and is cheerful and actually smiling! I’ve really never seen him happy!” she said.

Gabe was now able to understand how his anger was affecting him emotionally and physically, causing his life to spiral out of control. Learning Anger Management Skills helped Gabe quickly gain control of his anger giving him tools to put things in proper perspective when faced with daily triggers. Having experienced benefits from these techniques, he continued with counselling and reunited with his wife. “I feel a freedom, I was not expecting”, he said matter of factly with a smile. 

“Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion..you can’t get anything done.People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.” Interview with CBS radio host Don Swaim

Anger is a Signal You Need a Course Correction

 Anger is a natural part of being human and is a signal that you need a course correction. It is a temporary emotion usually with the original intention to seek a solution not just to lose control and express angst. You can learn to deal with anger and problem solve without hurting others. When you practice anger management skills you are taking responsibility for your health and communication in your relationships. It is important to let go of anger instead of hanging onto it once the problem is over and done. Anger can be addicting and habit forming and this becomes unhealthy for heart health and relationships. You don’t want to hide or ignore your anger however you want to recognize it as part of your human nature and that it can be handled skillfully. There are many ways that people express anger which can become habit forming.

Anger Issues Affect Heart Health

If you go off the handle and go from 0 to 60 really quickly and stay angry for a period you should understand it is detrimental to heart health. When you avoid your anger it can also take its toll on physical and emotional well-being. Instead of avoiding anger you can learn healthy skills and use it as a useful tool for assertively standing up for yourself. Angry emotion affects the heart putting it into a chaotic rhythm. It also drains energy, so it is important to learn useful anger skills that are effective. Conflict can improve relationships when it is handled well, it is only a signal that things need attention and they need to be dealt with in an honest and open way. When anger is avoided, it can be turned inward with self criticism or self harm. Don’t be afraid of your anger as it is a human emotion that gives you an opportunity to set boundaries for safety. It is important to stand up for yourself if you feel pushed around or disrespected. Courageously stand up for yourself, take charge and say no to what you don’t want. Practice being very clear when you mean yes and when you mean no., This takes courage to be honest and open about what you want and what you don’t want. You don’t have to light up quickly with rage to get what you need. You can be quietly and assertively effective. Be wise. If you go off like guns blazing, and angry your defensive actions make you less credible and you could end up not being listened to.


Call to Action:


1)Tell the other person specifically what you want by naming the specific behaviour.
Tell them how you felt.
Tell them specifically what you would like to see as the outcome in the relationship.
Do this in a calm tone of voice. If you cannot, take a break, go for a walk, and come back when you are relaxed.


2)Learn to be clear when you mean yes and when you mean no. If you’re not sure, give yourself time to think about it, and come back to the conversation later.


3)The next time you feel furious, instead of lighting up quickly realize the emotion you are experiencing, take a deep breath, and take a pause to give yourself that space to look at it rationally. If you need to apologize with your part in the disagreement, don’t wait, and speak from the heart.


4)Look for the warning signs when tension is rising. Stop ignoring the signs that anger is building and recognize when you are impatient and frustrated. When you ventilate in a sudden explosion, it rarely solves the problem and has you feeling worse as well as the other person feeling upset. Anger can be addicting due to the rush of adrenaline and every time you light up quickly you are training your brain to do it again.


5)When you feel these warning signs it’s time to take a time out and go for a walk, relax and let go of the physical and emotional tension. Breath in deeply, and do a long exhale as though letting go of the steam. Come back to the situation when you are calm, willing to talk quietly, slowly, and listen to what others have to say. With practice this gets easier and easier overtime.


6)Give yourself a chance to reclaim your emotions and accept that you are human. Make a commitment to notice anger and trust that you can deal with anger in a rational, healthy and assertive way.



About the blog author:
Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:
https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt
Categories
Anxiety Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance happiness letting go of fear

How to Deal With Anxiety, Overwhelm and Frustration With One Fast and Effective Tool

The Key to Being Strong During This Challenging Time With COVID 19

The key to being strong in the face of adversity is to practice mindfulness by taking a step back outside of the situation and look at it as a quiet observer. Heartmath Quick Coherence Technique gives you a tool for that pause during this challenging time with COVID 19. When you jump into the problem, you are in a much less effective state to deal with it, than if you take a step out of it. Much stress can be prevented by practicing pause and calm. Pausing before responding to situations gives us a chance to be in charge, rather than be in a stressed out and reactive state, worse having a panic attack. Rushing, we can miss inner signals to pause when needed. Our mental and emotional energies can jam with anxiety, frustration or overwhelm and it is more effective instead to pause, and ask our heart’s intelligence what perception would give us inner balance and clear direction. I have found that when you learn non-reactivity without being carried away or swept away by external difficult circumstances you find wisdom instead.

By Regulating Your Heart Rhythm You Can Relieve Anxiety

Remember that the heart is the CEO, and can bring you to a state of ease, so instead of trying to master your thought process ruled by the cognitive part of your brain learn to re-calibrate a belief of safety and refuge through regulating your heart rhythm. In my experience this is the deepest and most permanent way to feel better, and one of the best ways to manage anxiety. When you do heart focused breathing you put your heart in a coherent state with thoughts of joy, love, appreciation gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. This is a higher level of thinking which puts your heart rhythm in a smooth even wave. If you stay in a lower level state of anger, despair and anxiety your heart rhythm is in an incoherent state or in a jagged wave which can cause stress-related disorders.

“Don’t let your mind drown out your intuitive voice, train your subconscious to be positive by using the hearts intelligence” Steven Redhead author of Unleash the Power of Your Heart and Mind”

  1. Put your hand on your heart and focus your attention there.
  2. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out through your heart.
  3. Focus on the photo of this beautiful bunny and breath in the feeling of love into your heart.
  4. Once you have shifted into a positive feeling, sustain this emotion by continuing to do heart-focused breathing. http://www.heartmath.com

Stop The Worry Loop

At any point in time we are either in our primal state which is the fight flight zone of the sympathetic nervous system or we are in a healing and powerful state of the parasympathetic zone of the nervous system which means we are connected with the healing vagus nerve. Our primal state is limited with fears or insecurities, doubts, worries and anxieties, as this is is the cognitive part of our brain which is a lower level state. When we are overthinking things and getting into a worry loop, this can be mentally draining and affect health. At any point in time we have the choice to shift out of this primal state into the higher and healthier state of heart coherence, connecting with joy, creativity and inspiration.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine De Saint-Exupery author of “The Little Prince”

Call To Action:

Whenever you are in your monkey mind with your thoughts are racing out of control understand that you are in this primal state and notice your negative inner dialogue. Say OK I am in a primal unhealthy state and I am now going to my powerful higher level state. Put your hand on your heart, do heart focused breathing and know that your higher level of intelligence lies in the intuitive voice of your heart.

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information click on the photo or go to:
https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt

Categories
Anxiety Distress Tolerance Healing letting go of fear

Understanding Your Primal Freeze Response to Stress and Overwhelm

Freeze Response to Stress

There was an abrupt disconnect during the escalating emergency surrounding Jenna. It trapped her in a muffled silence, where everything else went on without her, and she froze. It had happened to her before, but never on her job as a paramedic. She had made sure of that, taking light volumes of sedatives that eased her usually anxious mind. 

“The detection of a person as safe or dangerous triggers neurobiologically determined pro-social or defensive behaviours.Even though we may not always be aware of danger on a cognitive level, on a neurophysiological level, our body has already started a sequence of neural processes that would facilitate adaptive defense behaviours such as fight, flight or freeze. ”

Stephen W. Porges, The Polyvagal Theory Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation

Someone was screaming her name. The voice bounced off the cold walls of her mind, muffled and drawn. Her hands were shaking. It was the only thing she could see. Her fingers, a supple glow and vivid contrast to the young man lying pale and limp against the white bed.

“Jenna!” Her mind snapped, and she rejoined the present. Loud alarms screamed from the surrounding machines. She was one of the two paramedics on that ambulance. This was an emergency. The teenager convulsing in the bed before her needed to be stabilized, now and not later. He was writhing, limbs flailing, cracking the stretcher underneath him, despite being restrained by her colleague.

“What’s wrong with you, Jenna! You just zoned out!” Her coworker and paramedic friend screamed.

Jenna had always known something was wrong with the world out there. Something wrong with its loud and demanding personalities that she avoided. But that question made her switch perspective. Maybe the problem wasn’t out there, perhaps the problem was within her. She loved her work more than anything. She was always primed in her white uniform, reciting every procedure mentally in her mind before arriving on scene. And then, suddenly, like a released spring, her mind started disassociating and freezing during urgent work situations.

It terrified her. 

She stayed up that night with her knees drawn to her chin, her mind unraveling, replaying the horror that had unfolded in that ambulance. The disappointment on her coworker’s face remained with her, as she went over and over in her mind. The disgust and confusion in their faces etched in hard lines. She sat staring at her thoughts jutting out crazily in all directions. Her pale face stared at the wall as her doctor took her blood pressure. “I will put you on six weeks stress leave. First responders can suffer from symptoms of PTSD. I know of a ranch with horses run by a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and it would be the perfect therapy for you.” She wrote the note for the stress leave and the name of the ranch, and gave Jenna a caring smile touching her shoulder. Relief washed over her, as she needed time to heal. Jenna went home and quickly packed her riding clothes to spend one month at Chrome Heart Ranch to work with the Wise Women on Horseback program.

The Dorsal Parasympathetic Response

 This is a primal response that keeps us frozen to survive when we feel death could happen. We have this response to keep ourselves alive until we can fight or flee again. This response also has the potential to have us feel disconnected, hopeless and spaced out. Heart rate and breathing might also decrease. Some people may not speak, have a constriction in the throat, or crawl into bed not wanting to move. 

The freeze response is your coping mechanism when an event in front of you overwhelms you and it paralyzes you with fear. In seconds you know that you can either defeat the frightening event or run from it, but if not the experience can send the person into a state of freeze which can be full collapse,dissociation, or a more partial freeze such as an inability to think clearly or access words or emotions, or to move parts of the body. This can be momentary or short term.

When stress is very great, the sympathetic nervous system automatically goes to our primal fight-or-flight response. It can happen in response to the threat or the perception of a threat. Either fighting or fleeing can resolve the stress. If neither is possible nor successful, the sympathetic arousal can get so extreme that it is too much for the body to handle, leading to a state of a freeze response.

Some of my clients, have had extended freeze episodes after a traumatic event. An unwanted trigger or reminiscing over a painful event had led some to shut down sometimes for months at a time. Therapy, however, helps the nervous system regain its healthy balance and with help from a professional, climb out of the state of being disconnected. This trust-based compassionate relationship builds inner strength, and gradually resets the nervous system and helps regain a feeling of safety.

“Practice self-compassion and experience the priceless feeling of emotional safety.” Amy Leigh Mercree, The Compassion Revolution: 30 Days of Living from the Heart

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters,which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:
https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt
Categories
Anxiety Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance Stress

When Your Emotions are Unruly and Untamed, Try These Three Simple Steps

“Don’t react while you are upset because at that time your reaction will be based on negative emotions; but intuitive and positive thoughts flow when you are calm.” Hina Hasmi author of “Your Life a Practical Guide to Happiness,Peace and Fulfilment

Direct your emotions when your mind is unruly and untamed. It is essential to practice steadiness of mind on a daily basis to benefit health and well-being. Bring your wandering mind back to the present moment should you get lost in the swirl of worries and thoughts. Thought reframing as a habit becomes not only a great practice and a practical route out of these disruptive or maladaptive thoughts, it helps us radically shift our perspective. Reframing makes it possible to change our viewpoint by planting ideas, concepts and emotions with positive alternatives. This change in thinking patterns is therapeutic and allows us to connect more effectively with others both personally and professionally. 

Your thoughts are only mental activity and chatter. Acknowledge them as they come up but don’t pay too much reverence to them as they are usually full of inaccurate material. Thoughts will always arise and then disappear as they follow this natural route. Disregard them, and like a pressure cooker instant pot, let them blow off steam with all the frantic drama. Remind yourself that your thoughts have no power over you, thank them for the feedback and then let them go.

Your attitude and the story you tell yourself matters, as it is your personal style that describes to others who you really are. For example, a persistent attitude has been attributed to determining successful outcomes. Keep and cherish the story you love about the unique and incredible person that you are highlighted at all times.

We are programmed to find meaning in our stories and make sense of things and this comes in the form of a story. If you don’t see the good with a positive vision of yourself, you may be unknowingly creating an unhealthy self image.The brain with its negativity bias relays inaccurate analysis or predictions about the present situation which can deprive you of joy and happiness. When you sense chaos, your brain’s natural tendency will be to create stories to gain a sense of order. A majority of these made-up stories however, are inaccurate and inconsistent. 

In our present world our minds are overwhelmed with so many things happening each minute, information overload becomes too much for us to process, and we need to pick which elements to pay attention to. When experiencing stressful events, it is the positive stories that are healthy. Disqualifying the positives means that we are afraid to pay too much attention to sharing positive emotions. To recall positive emotions and beautiful memories takes practice because of our brains’ natural tendency to latch onto negativity. It is not your fault, but it is time now to take charge to feel lighter and happier.  

Giving yourself thoughts of safety while in a swirl of emotions will help you stay grounded and calm despite your present circumstance. Having a consistent daily practice to challenge difficult thoughts changes both your neurochemistry and heart rhythm. This also works towards building your resilience overtime to stress and overwhelm. Our life is a work of art, and we can become the masters of directing our story. 

Three simple steps to practice when in an uncomfortable emotional state:

1) Recognize your negative thought.

2) Say stop.

3) Say SNAP! and then reframe the story.

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters,which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:
https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt
Categories
Anxiety Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance letting go of fear Mindfulness

When in a Crisis,Try These Four Steps That Work Quickly to Keep You Calm

“Sometimes there is no time to wait for the sea to calm down! If you have to reach your target, let your voyage start and let the storm be your path.” Mehmet Murat Ildan

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters,which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt

Julie Blackwater’s legs were going like pistons, a pure celebration of speed on her morning run. She pumped through the burn in her thighs, keeping her pace to the rolling tunes of rock music. The sun was high overhead; the heat pressed all around her. She gradually slowed to a stop and stooped over panting. Her muscles hummed, tingling as she stretched. Sweat was heavy on her lids, she swiped at them, and flicked her wrist to check her temperature on the screen of her smart watch. She blinked. She was burning up, hotter than the usual. As her breathing gradually dropped to normal, the adrenaline quickly dying out, her senses took in her surroundings. The air was different. She sniffed it, noticing a pungent scent. Her eyes strobed the area as her mind struggled to place it. 

The first alarm went off in her head, when she realized her eyesight was hazy. It felt wrong. She keened her vision and picked out the feathery wisps of smoke. Smoke on a summer’s day? She downed the last contents of her water bottle. The cool liquid quickly disappeared down her dry throat, doing little to quench her thirst. She frowned down at the empty container. 

Her gaze swept wildly a second time, coming up short of an explanation until she spun to the east. A few yards away from where she stood, a thick wall of smoke slowly crawled its way towards her, its ghostly mass swallowing trees as it hovered closer at a steady pace. The sight rooted Julie to the spot as her thoughts blanked, her frantic nerves struggling to piece reasoning.

Without thinking, she burst into a quick run in the opposite direction, climbing up a slippery slope on all fours until she had gained a few meters above level ground. She paused to glimpse back at it, and that was when she saw it, above the tops of the trees, a blazing wall screamed towers of thick smoke into the sky. The blood in her veins curdled, the shock pinning her in place, but only for a moment. 

She cautiously swept a scanning gaze around her, realizing that the wall of fire stretched down south and beyond view. How had she missed it, she thought to herself, snatching the pods from her ears. The crackling of the burning forest and the roaring of the fire surrounded her hearing at once and the pulsating flames, though a distance away, beat sweltering waves of heat towards her.

 Stress is a very distinct feeling in the body. We can get hijacked with an unexpected crisis along with a torrent of concerns with worry and regret. Emotions are natural and part of being human. However, when we remain in our emotional mind, upsetting circumstances and negative states can break away on us like a colt out of control galloping for home. When we have overwhelming emotions, just like the horse bolting out of control, they can take charge. Don’t clear away painful emotions, but  shift them, and remain solution focused. When something unexpected happens, acknowledge that emotional shock wave that you’re feeling in that moment. You have earned the right to say WHAT! Are you kidding me? You must become aware of what you’re feeling before you can let it go. Acknowledge it, but don’t park yourself and stay there. It doesn’t hurt for you to take a pause, take a step back, and objectively and cleverly find a solution.

This doesn’t mean that you’re just suddenly all together and over the situation, and it doesn’t magically erase what happened, but by bringing a  different perspective this now refocuses your mind. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is the brilliant google of the brain. When you focus on a solution, ideas that you may have never thought of before will pop up, sorting and filtering through data on information that you are zeroing in on. In Julie Blackwater’s case, she needed those solutions for her very survival.  This newfound strength and understanding is not a perfect science, but you always know that when you take a step back and trust your RAS as well as your heart’s intelligence, you will be OK. Despite the pain, accept that there are always things beyond your control and that you can make some room for what could be an opportunity in looking at your life differently. This insight may not happen overnight but be patient with yourself, as sometimes ideas take time to show up.

“Change the Changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable”

In Julie’s case she was in crisis and there was no time for contemplation as the only option was for survival and to forge ahead with creative ideas. When we look at what crisis has happened, sit with some acceptance of it and not try to change it, anxiety lifts. By letting go of wanting things to be how you want them to be and free yourself of controlling events, you’ll spend more time focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want, and feel lighter and happier. Take a good hard look at what happened and problem solve on what you can do. Immediately let go of what you can’t control about it, and take a giant step back outside of the problem, knowing that you are in the drivers seat with your RAS at your side.

Four Steps to Use in a Crisis:  STOP

S: Stop: look at the situation

T: Take a giant step back in your imagination outside of the problem.

O: Observe your feelings, put your hand on your heart and name the emotion. This gesture reduces the stress response in the body.

P:  Problem solve, by using your RAS which is the reliable google of the brain, and seek 1-3 solutions. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

I invite you to share with me in the “Leave a Reply” section at the very bottom of the page your experiences, and how you creatively problem solved through them.