Sailing the Storm
This blog has been a long time coming. I honestly could not have ever, ever dreamed the ‘motivating’ factor would be a pandemic. And yet, here we are. I have many thoughts on this as those who know me would expect. As a skilled NET practitioner, I know the value of maintaining calm even in the face of the storm. In the following blog entries, I will elaborate on NET and the other psychotherapy interventions that can be helpful for maintaining that calm. Maintaining calm is simple to say, a little more challenging to implement. When we feel threatened the body releases a cascade of signals preparing for fight or flight and sometimes freeze. This survival state can be fully activated or it can habituate into a chronic, low-level state. Both states release hormones designed to handle the stress. The fully activated sympathetic nervous system is not meant to be maintained long-term. It depletes and taxes the body in many unhealthy ways. Our brains are currently being flooded with upsetting and threatening information, images and emotions from others at an unfathomable rate. There are some steps that you can start to implement that will help pull you back into activating the brakes or the parasympathetic nervous system. Start by spending some time investigating different types of skills. I call them skills because while they are part learning, they are mostly the doing. This can consist of imagery, breathing, chanting, listening to or creating music, exercise or any combination of these. There are many good ideas on the internet about meditations, guided visualization and breathing-for-relaxation techniques. It’s an important investment in yourself finding something(s) that you resonate with and are willing to spend a little consistent time with. Notice the things that allow you to disconnect, even for a brief time.
"Our brains are currently being flooded with upsetting and threatening information, images and emotions from others at an unfathomable rate. "
Once you have some idea of what disconnects you, start building your awareness of where you are in the moment. Begin to check in with yourself noticing how your body feels including any tension you may be carrying. Create an understanding of your unique stress response – what a calm state is, a slight nervous system activation and when you are really feeling nervous. When you notice you are somewhere between calm and mid activation, take a little ‘time out’ to engage in a short break using some of the skills that you identified earlier. Visit these skills regularly right now to counterbalance our body’s natural reaction to what feels threatening. Build your body’s ability to hit the fight or flight brakes so to speak - the ability to maintain calm. Once that dysregulation sets in, it’s harder for the nervous system to regulate so it’s important to stay ahead of it. In the old days, like three weeks ago, maybe there wasn’t time to really practice this. But maybe there is the time now and your wellbeing has a lot to do with regulating your nervous system.