This month, we had an intimate chat during our monthly Fighting Pretty Conversations series with certified trauma recovery coach, Jill Anderson to take a look at what's on the other side of PTSD and tools to help cope.
Post-traumatic growth is the other side of post-traumatic stress. Try leaning in to find what joy looks like now. Sit with the hard feelings and see how long you can hold them. Do they start to shrink? Or do you need to come back to grounding yourself?
Recognizing those boundaries helps stretch your “window of tolerance” so you can get through more, hold more and enjoy more without shutting down.
Don’t rush the journey of “getting over it” but get to know yourself through each stage. Emotions are pieces of information from our brains, and those fears and areas of trauma are parts of you that weren’t given a choice and weren’t honored in the moment.
Jill says, "the antidote to anxiety is curiosity." So thinking about what is causing the anxiety is key to finding ways to get past it. Here are some quick tips to managing your growth:
1. Ask questions to take action.
Sometimes asking simple questions can help put things into perspective and take action. These questions can help navigate how to manage your fear or anxiety:
- What do I need to know right now?
- What else might be possible?
- What resources do I have to find out how to deal with this?
- Who do I need to help me and how?
2. Remind yourself you are in control.
Find ways to stay present in the here and now. Remind yourself and who you are. Here are some tips:
- Use a Post-It note to post “I am” statements all over your house/car/cubicle. (ie. I am enough. I am strong. I am beautiful. I can get through today.
- Put inspirational stickers on your computer
- Hang your gloves somewhere nearby to remember you are a fighter
- Every day, write down your fears and when you're done writing, close your journal and leave your fears there
3. Play the 5-senses game and get back into your mind and your body. When we’re grounded and safe in our bodies, we can feel safer facing the world.
- Look around and notice 5 things you enjoy.
- Notice 4 things you can touch.
- Listen for 3 things you can hear.
- Notice 2 things you can smell (or if you can’t smell anything now, think about 2 of your favorite smells)
- Recognize 1 thing you can taste (if nothing in this moment, what is 1 thing you love to taste).
Next, think about which sense stood out to you the most, and how did those things make you feel?
4. Make a plan to detensify your body. (Is detensify even a word? If not, it should be!)
Your brain cannot be anxious and planning at the same time. Trauma cuts us off from ourselves first, then from our community. Make a list of things you can do to take care of yourself. Think of what has worked in the past, or try something new.
- Have you taken a yoga class that has helped ease anxiety?
- Do you need a trip to Home Goods or Target to keep your mind busy?
- Have you tried a medidation app (like Headspace or Calm) to help with breathing techniques?
- If your body is physically tense, relax your tongue and jaw. This will ease the muscles reaching up into your brain and release tension in your body.
- Sit down in a quiet space at home and pick a spot to focus on (at the corner of the ceiling/wall, a splotch of paint, etc.). Focus on that spot, then return to yourself. Focus again and slowly expand your peripheral vision. Keep returning to your focus spot and gradually include more and more until you feel calm enough to take on the room.
- Another technique is to use the fingers of one hand to trace the outside of the other. As you move up one finger, breathe in, as you move down, breathe out. By the time you’ve traced your whole hand, you’ve taken 5 slow, deep breaths. Repeat as many times as you need.
Consider thinking about how the fear holding you back and what it is keeping you from. Think about those things, make a plan, and dive in. As our founder Kara would say: then, put on lipstick and attack!
Anxiety and trauma is real and not to be taken lightly. If you need help, ask for it. To learn more about Jill Anderson and the Recovery Coaching she provides, visit her website at https://www.jillandersoncoaching.com.