When we feel flooded, overwhelmed, lost, numb, shut down, anxious, panicky we tend to check out from ourselves, the world around us and others.
We run away when things seem too much, when it feels as though nobody could possibly understand what it’s really like for us, we freeze, we fight, we hurt ourselves and there is another way.
When we are triggered, it is our bodies that sound the alarm: our hearts start racing; we can’t breathe; our muscles start twitching.
You may have anxieties in going to the dentist or being in groups of people. Perhaps you were in a traffic accident and remember the trauma associated with that and know that every time you go in a car something ‘feels off’, you can’t quite understand it. You may have suffered severe complex traumas from childhood and need specialist help in your life today.
Oftentimes we can tend to think that the problems we have mean that we are faulty or defective in some way but this can’t be farther from the truth.
Belly and Heart
Here is a simple and effective way to decrease the bodily activations you might experience at times:
- Place one hand on your belly, one hand on your heart.
- Focus on the weight and warmth of your hands.
- Notice what happens, just notice it.
- Breathe in gentleness, breathe out whatever is stuck.
- Focus on that for a good few minutes.
- Just having your hands on your heart and belly is soothing; it’s a posture of turning toward yourself rather than away from.
Connecting with your breathing is super important and it is immediate, almost everyone can do this and it is one thing to pay attention to when you feel panicky and triggered. Taking a step back from yourself and the situation to notice what is actually going with your physical reactions such as heart pounding, tight tummy or wobbly tummy, tight chest. Has your breathing sped up or has it become shallow? ‘Noticing’ what is happening with you and putting words to this will help you to be able to manage and not get carried away with the emotional overwhelm of the trigger.
When we are emotionally overwhelmed from a trigger it’s important to ‘get thinking’. Get doing activities or jobs that are simple and don’t ask for emotional involvement. So, rather than focusing on work with others’ where you are in relationship dynamics work in the garden or volunteer, or work with figures, reading, writing. Sort out your paperwork at home; do a crossword all the things that ‘get you thinking’, like puzzles.
Reach out to someone
- You can also reach out to a trusted other and ask them for their help to be with you – hold you e.g.
- Put your ear onto the chest / heart of your husband, wife, child, friend and just listen to its rhythm. Ask them to listen to you heart.
- You may need to reach out to a professional therapist for help with trauma
Safety is key and identifying how safe you are feeling is essential. A safety plan you might like to consider is:
- Write out your unsafe feelings and behaviours and next to each one write out what you can do to cope with them.
- For example if you notice you are withdrawing away from people what you can do to manage this is to reach out to people. People you trust and feel safe around.
- If you are feeling suicidal, call 999/go to A&E
- If you are restless and find relaxing impossible then get physically active. Don’t try to calm and relax when your body is needing movement
- Lots of thoughts racing around in your head then journaling can really help
- Feeling stressed and anxious then take yourself out for a walk
- Contact a helpline ( I have listed several below)
- Contact a therapist
116123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or text SHOUT to 85258 24/7 crisis text support
Support for Abused Women www.safeline.org 0808 80050
Call 999 if in immediate danger
The mix, free information and support for under 25’s in UK 0808 808 4994
National LGBT and Domestic abuse helpline 0800 999 5428
Women’s and girls’ helpline for sexual violence 0808 801 0770
Info@mind.org.uk / text 86463 / 0300 123 3393 info line
www.havoca.org help for adult victims of child abuse