A perspectiv­e

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - OBSERVATIO­NS - • SH­ERYL PUTERMAN The writer is an in­ter­na­tion­ally trained mind, body and nu­tri­tion coach and founder and CEO of Nour­ish­ment Vi­tal­ity Coach­ing. Sh­eryl­put­er­

We are liv­ing in times of great un­cer­tainty. There are con­stant threats and rocket at­tacks in the South, threats and un­cer­tainty in the North, and the con­stant threat of ter­ror­ism ev­ery­where in-be­tween. We live in a tough neigh­bor­hood to say the least.

Most hu­mans live with trauma from their present and their past. This trauma can be in the form of a big life-chang­ing event that oc­curred, and can also be those daily or un­ac­knowl­edged experience­s that deeply af­fect how you think, feel and func­tion in the world.

Both the big and lit­tle traumas have a pro­found ef­fect on your body and on your daily life. When they are ig­nored or un­pro­cessed, they can build up and re­sult in se­ri­ous ill­ness or ir­re­versible mis­takes in judg­ment.

Given ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on around us, it makes com­plete sense to be deeply af­fected. You may be in­ter­nal­iz­ing be­liefs you’re not aware of that are in­flu­enced by the events around you.

How­ever, you can re­lieve your­self of those be­liefs and iden­tify your symp­toms so that you can be­gin to pave a path to free­dom and a less stress­ful way of life.

In my work with in­di­vid­u­als and in work­shops, there are some com­mon state­ments I hear that peo­ple be­lieve to be nor­mal or which they have ac­cepted as per­sonal flaws. The truth is, they’re be­ing im­pacted by trauma. If we don’t ac­knowl­edge that, we can’t make the im­por­tant shifts where it mat­ters.

• “My head is all over the place.”

• “I can’t get any­thing done.”

• “I can’t stop scrolling on so­cial me­dia.”

• “I’m con­stantly check­ing the news.”

• “I’m al­ways on edge and an­tic­i­pat­ing the worst-case sce­nario.”

• “My kids are so un­set­tled and wor­ried which is up­set­ting me.”

There may be an ever-present loom­ing feel­ing of things go­ing wrong amid so much un­cer­tainty. When the day-to-day rou­tine re­sumes to nor­mal, you may have a feel­ing that it could all erupt at any mo­ment.

That doesn’t make you a pes­simist. It’s a very nor­mal trauma re­sponse.

A STUDY by Mar­jie L. Rod­dick, MA, NCC, LMHC on how your body re­acts to trauma out­lines five com­mon re­sponses to trauma that you may be able to iden­tify in your­self. The first im­por­tant step is al­ways aware­ness of what’s hap­pen­ing so you know what kind of care you can take to trans­form your ex­pe­ri­ence.

Trauma re­sponse #1: To freeze

Dur­ing an ini­tial stress re­sponse, the body usu­ally height­ens its senses so it knows what’s go­ing on. Think of a deer that perks up its ears at the sound of rustling grass. When in a con­stant, low-level state of trauma-re­lated stress, your body may numb its senses so you be­come less af­fected by what’s around you. Peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this re­sponse usu­ally feel un­able to make de­ci­sions or think clearly.

Re­sponse #2: Fight or flight:

This is when your brain and body pre­pare to ei­ther fight or run from a perceived dan­ger. Your body in­ter­prets all stress as dan­ger­ous, even if you are not im­me­di­ately be­ing threat­ened. These two states cause your mus­cles to tense up, your heart rate to in­crease, and your di­ges­tion to be im­pacted. If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this reg­u­larly, you may have a lot of body aches, headaches, diges­tive com­plaints and fa­tigue.

Re­sponse #3: Fright –

This is when fear has be­come a nor­mal state of mind and starts to block your abil­ity to think clearly. Peo­ple who share this have trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing or tak­ing ac­tion on any­thing, and are of­ten re­spond­ing to a state of fear. Liv­ing in this state makes sense, given what’s go­ing on around us.

Re­sponse #4: Flag re­sponse –

This is when your body be­gins to shut down and slow down. You may say you “feel numb.” You’re not be­com­ing emo­tion­less or in­sen­si­tive, your brain and body are ac­tu­ally just try­ing to pro­tect you.

Re­sponse #5: Faint re­sponse –

This may mean ac­tu­ally faint­ing, or the feel­ing of be­ing com­pletely dis­con­nected from your body. You see this when peo­ple say they feel like they weren’t in their bod­ies, or that they were float­ing above them­selves watch­ing things take place.

What­ever the trauma re­sponse may be, you can see how it ad­versely af­fects your daily life and health. If you are start­ing to feel numb and not present – ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress symp­toms in the body, un­able to fo­cus, strug­gling with the fear of un­cer­tainty, al­ways tensed up – you are go­ing to see how that im­pacts your re­la­tion­ships, your ca­reer, your health and more.

So, be­gin to iden­tify it in your­self so that you can take the nec­es­sary steps to pre­vent the es­ca­la­tion of trauma and so that you can also be­gin to heal. This will give you an un­der­stand­ing and perspectiv­e so you can help your kids if you no­tice these signs af­fect­ing them.

HERE ARE some so­lu­tions. The first and most ac­ces­si­ble tool to all hu­mans is to be­come aware of your breath­ing. Breath­ing is the cor­ner­stone of stress man­age­ment. It will help you re­gain your fo­cus, your clar­ity, and your sta­bil­ity.

• Do a body scan. Lie or sit down and go through the dif­fer­ent body parts from your fin­gers to your toes. Talk through what you’re feel­ing and imag­ine re­leas­ing all ten­sion. You can help your chil­dren with this too and even do this to­gether

• Count your breaths.

• Re­lax your shoul­ders.

• Nour­ish your body with healthy foods and hy­drate.

• When you no­tice the stress build­ing up, take some time alone in the mo­ment be­fore re­ac­tion takes over.

• In­stead of fo­cus­ing on all the things you need to do at once, break down the to-do list into man­age­able projects and fo­cus on one task at a time.

• Val­i­date what you’re feel­ing and no­tice the feel­ings in­stead of pushing past them.

• Express what you need help with and what doesn’t work for you

• Re­spect your in­tro­verted side; take some time alone.

• Do a re­al­ity check with your thoughts. Check where you are tak­ing on un­due blame

• Cel­e­brate more of what’s go­ing well and be spe­cific.

• Fo­cus on what needs to be done now and don’t add any ideas to the list.

• Get out and move your body; re­lease pent-up en­ergy.

Ac­knowl­edge what’s go­ing on in your body with un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion. When you be­come ac­cus­tomed to the stress, no mat­ter how much it neg­a­tively af­fects you, then you may cling to it be­cause it’s fa­mil­iar. Ac­knowl­edge that chang­ing your ex­pe­ri­ence is you learn­ing a new way of be­ing, and ex­pect ups and downs – they’re part of the ex­pe­ri­ence of learn­ing.

Emo­tional heal­ing will help you trans­form your emo­tional trauma into strength.

You can start to ex­plore your feel­ings and deepen your self-aware­ness with books and ar­ti­cles on spe­cific top­ics. You can also ask for help and sup­port from a ther­a­pist, psy­chol­o­gist or coach. You can use modal­i­ties like art ther­apy, creative writ­ing and jour­nal­ing, coun­sel­ing, hyp­nother­apy, etc. Find and try the modal­i­ties you feel called to try and that work for you.

Never hes­i­tate to ask for help, be­cause heal­ing can be over­whelm­ing. Do heal­ing work with some­one who cre­ates a safe space for you. In­vest in your­self and in your heal­ing be­cause it is the best in­vest­ment for your life and per­sonal growth. Ul­ti­mately, be very patient and gen­tle with your­self. You’re doing your best.

Heal­ing is not easy, but it will al­ways em­power you and al­low you to be­come stronger and re­launch your­self higher.

Breath­ing is the cor­ner­stone of stress man­age­ment


‘TAK­ING A deep breath will help you re­gain your fo­cus, your clar­ity and your sta­bil­ity,’ notes the writer.

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