Devastating, traumatizing stress is one of the most unpleasant traumatic experiences we can have. Whether it’s news of the unexpected death of a loved one, a serious illness, financial loss, violence, the loss of a relationship, there’s a kind of stress that makes simply staying in our bodies a Herculean task. I’ve experienced this kind of pain on several occasions. Taking the actions below helped me navigate those choppy waters, and come out on the other side a bit more battered, but also more whole.
1. Homeopathic support – A friend told me years ago about a man whose wife died during a dental procedure. They had five children. Can you imagine? An ordinary day turned horrifically tragic. A close friend of the distraught man insisted that he take Dr. Bach’s Rescue formula diluted in water. After several glasses of the Rescue formula-infused water, the man began to feel a bit better oriented to face his new reality. When I first heard this story, I was highly skeptical. Yet, when faced with an intense crisis, my willingness to receive help from any and all sources led me to the health food store, where I picked up the Rescue formula. The intensity of my stress did lift on and off, as I took the formula, and applied the other principles below. Whenever I felt myself veering off track again, I’d take the drops, and would shortly return closer to equilibrium. If you’re skeptical, as I was, I’d encourage you to give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose, but have peace of mind to gain.
2. Friends and family – Unless you’ve been Scrooge all of your life, there’s nothing like a crisis to show you how loved you are. When under extreme stress, do not isolate. Reach out to people in whose presence you feel safe, or who you know can keep a confidence. Trust your intuition. You know who to turn to. You know who will make it worse. The love you receive may take many forms: a shoulder to cry on, a warm meal, free babysitting, keys to a country house, a massage. Be open to receiving the comfort and care offered by those who care about you.
3. Physical anchors – Tending to simple physical tasks such as eating, staying hydrated, sleeping, and basic grooming is a respectable accomplishment when we’re mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. When wondering what to do next, gently ask yourself, “Am I hungry, thirsty, or tired? Have I brushed my teeth, showered, combed my hair?” These are the times when your motto should be, “Easy does it.”
4. Keep moving – If you are able, exercise. The release of adrenaline and the boosting of serotonin in your system will help ease anxieties.
5. Have faith – Crises test our faith. I’m not talking about our belief in specific dogma, but our overall confidence that we are appropriate for living, that we can ride the waves, that, ultimately, we will be okay. If you have faith in a Higher Power, now is a good time to pray, to pour out your heart, to be still and listen. A few minutes of meditation can help you watch the noise going in your head and, perhaps for only moments at a time, detach from it, recognizing that you are bigger than what is happening to you, and that your life will go on despite the pain you’re in.
6. Know you’re not alone – Everyone goes through difficulties at one point or another. It seems to be part of the curriculum of being a human being. Be as kind to yourself as possible, breathe, be loved, and know that the persistent intensity of your pain shall pass.