Hindsight 2020

Unprecedented uncertainty seem to be the buzz words of 2020. This has been a roller coaster of a year full of sickness, death, grief, societal unrest, racial injustice, climate catastrophes and constant chaos amongst those running the country. Your nervous system has likely had enough; Because unprecedented uncertainty is not safe through the eyes of your nervous system.

Your nervous system’s #1 job is looking out for #1: You, and keeping you alive. To accomplish this, our system continuously scans our internal and external environments, without our conscious awareness, for threats or signs of danger. This is a process known as neuroception. Based on your system’s appraisal of that constant monitoring, we may experience physical and psychological changes as a survival response. Such responses include classic signs of hypo and hyper arousal. Through our trauma lens we can recognize that all symptoms and reactions to stressors can be understood as the system’s attempt to cope and respond to stressors.

Coping in Today’s World

In today’s world, our systems are constantly picking up on cues of danger, and as such having a response to these appraisals. Racism and societal unrest, constant bickering amongst politicians, a smoke filled sky, a hurricane warning from our local news, seeing people in masks when you go to the store, people standing too close to us, even filling out your ballot…All of these experiences may be perceived by the nervous system as cues of threat and danger to your survival.

So, what do we do when our survival physiology is making a hard time even harder?  Regulate, regulate, regulate. While we can recognize our systems are having a normal response to abnormal events, we can use conscious acts of discernment and coping to help increase our odds for resiliency. Think of your nervous system like a runaway train, responding to the constant bombardment of danger cues. But what if that runaway train had an emergency brake and we just forget to pull it sometimes?

Taking time for self-care is intentional self-regulation time. Everyone could benefit from taking more time to intentionally self-regulate. This is essentially how you pull the E brake on that runaway train. Though the train is likely to get out of control again, later today or this week because this year is so intense, we can keep returning to calming and quieting our brains and bodies, leading to more health and wellness.

Calming Our Mind and Body Through Regulation

How you calm and quiet your brain and body, or how your client’s choose to do this, can vary. For what feels soothing to one nervous system may not feel soothing to another. Here are some of my regular go to’s that I personally find helpful, and teach many of my clients.

Meditate, meditate, meditate

Turn off the news and get away from social media

Connect to something bigger than yourself and this moment.

Connect with nature

Remember that this is the present moment, not the forever future. That this too shall end. What we do in these times matters for our future selves, for our families, our friends, our communities, our societies, and the human race.

So keep coping. Keep regulating. Keep practicing with intentionality. This is how we build resilience and navigate the tides of uncertainty.

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