Managing Hypervigilance; Anxiety, and Chronic Stress

We often blame ourselves as we feel undeserving of affection and care, unworthy of success and happiness. This is disconnection.


Relationships with others are vital to your health, well-being and your identity. Without connection with others, we cannot grow, learn, or trust life; love, and know what happiness is. We learn from our caregivers how to be in a relationship, and when we have not experienced loving attachments, we can find ourselves lost in the world, in all sorts of troubles and difficulties.


Disconnection from others, self, goodness and love, is heartbreaking. It can be from family and friends due to bullying, from the culture, or from the community. It can be caused, as an example, by prejudice, discrimination, violence and lack of care. Whatever it is, it causes a chronic stress of uncertainty and a consistent feeling of not belonging, which can profoundly impact one’s ability to trust others and the world.


If you have experienced neglect, abuse, bullying or discrimination, it will likely be not easy to regulate and understand your emotions, self-organisation, and relationships. You may find yourself hypervigilant and nervously concerned with people’s facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Difficulty managing your emotions can cause anxiety, rage or fear as well as depression, feeling helpless, hopeless and wanting to end it all.


This disconnection can be referred to as Complex PTSD. Most times, the child who grows up in a home with ongoing neglect, for example, will stop being curious, stop feeling their feelings, and control their growth to survive their environment, which damages the child. As an adult today, that child part inside is disconnected from those parts of themselves/their self that had to disappear to survive. When there is disconnection, there is trauma, and where there is trauma staying disconnected strengthens the divide between the part of you that is trying to live everyday life and the part that is carrying all the complex, traumatic experiences.


It is essential to think about yourself, find out what you need to heal, and move forward from the stuck places within yourself and your relationships with others and the world.


Disconnection is often caused by traumatic events that begin in childhood and continue into adulthood as different personal experiences such as relationship losses; cultural losses; health issues happen, and one day there is a realisation that something feels off; something feels wrong inside. We often blame ourselves as we feel undeserving of affection and care, unworthy of success and happiness. This is simply untrue; this is disconnection.


The danger of staying disconnected:


  • As adults today, the sense of disconnection can become triggered if you have lost your job, are going through a separation, are mourning the loss of a loved one, or are feeling threatened.


  • Suppose we have not had good, safe relationships. In that case, we are very vulnerable to being hooked on social media messaging apps, such as online dating sites, to getting tied into a pathway to more disconnection.


  • Disconnection from ourselves and other people; nature can almost seem normal


  • Do you believe that this is your lot in life and that being connected to good people and love is impossible for you?


  • You never get to use your senses, body, voice, and intuition.


  • Being addicted to phones; social media; Facebook; using dating apps. All of these create a false sense of connection and can lead to unsafe situations.


  • The disconnection is from the reality of difficult, threatening and unbearable experiences.



Managing Disconnection; Hypervigilance; Anxiety and Chronic Stress


It is essential to think about yourself, find out what you need to heal, and move forward from the stuck places within yourself and your relationships with others and the world. Furthermore, here are some ideas about what will help you in your way begin to do that:


A loving memory – bringing to mind someone who represents love to you, and as you think of them, notice what sensations you feel inside. Add colour to these sensations and let them into your heart. Whenever you feel anxious and wobbly, bring this to mind.


Boundaries– get familiar with limits inside you, e.g. when you feel yourself getting anxious, you know inside you need to do something about this. External boundaries include saying NO to requests on your time when you want to say No.


Managing triggers – do you become angry or fearful or feel out of control? Whatever happens to you when triggered is manageable if you start to understand when it happens and then build a practice of what you can do to manage and return to the here and now.


A safe place – having a safe place to settle in and go to recharge can be so good. Maybe somewhere in nature to connect with the earth; the colours; smells, and to think about where you are; what is going on; how you feel, and what you need.


Yoga – can be a very grounding practice, even 10mins per day to stretch and start the day or to stretch and unwind in the evening.


Adult stance– Standing up and moving slowly from one foot to the other and imagining you send each leg into the earth. After a while, standing still with a lift of your heart and becoming aware of being an adult in an adult body


Breathing – a restoring practice of breathing, such as breathing in for four counts, holding a moment and breathing out for six counts, can help slow you down and bring you into the here and now.


Plan – for upcoming situations; if you know that social problems stress you, then it can help to think about what you need to manage those situations; visualise the conditions going the way you want them to go; ask yourself what you need to make them more manageable


Stop ignoring your needs by becoming aware of what you are doing and, for example, being concerned about doing what others expect of you and not listening to when you need to rest or reach out to a friend or exercise.


Eat and spend time with people who nourish your soul– we can spend time with people and after a time start to feel drained of energy, or we can notice feeling empowered and complete because we are getting something good such as recognition, understanding; a slowing down and being together; a safe feeling.