PTSD Recovery Tip of the Week: Slow Down
Monday, July 2nd, 2012 • PTSD Recovery Tips •
The National Science Foundation estimates that our brains produce as many as 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day depending on how ‘deep’ a thinker you are (other estimates run as high as 60,000/day). For those of us who have experienced PTSD it can feel like (and perhaps we do!) have 150,000 per day. And they all revolved around very similar themes:
- Am I safe?
- Am I in control?
- Can I protect myself?
- Am I in danger?
- Is this going to be a threat to me?
Sheesh, just looking at that list can make your heart start to beat faster! How would your life change if, say, you traveled by cart and mule instead of race car?
Take Amy, for example, since her trauma her mind stays in hypervigilant, hypersensitive mode all the time. In an attempt to better control it Amy has made her world the size of a dime. She doesn’t go out, or prepare meals for her family, or participate in any function of daily life. She stays in her room mostly and tries to desensitize herself to her memories while depriving herself of any stimulation. In other words, she’s also depriving herself of living.
In our work together, however, I’m teaching Amy some skills to reduce that anxious feeling. And, I’m coaching Amy to put in place practices that help her learn to slowwww dowwnnnn. She’s being very diligent about following through and has developed terrific mastery at learning to slow down not only her thoughts, but also her emotions, feelings and body senations.
Now Amy meditates regularly, practices breathing techniques, writes out her thoughts to gain control over them and reminds herself to relax into that anxious energy rather than try to resist it. (Ok, I know it sounds weird to relax into anxiety but trust me when I tell you that Amy has discovered a way to do it! By using the other practices she’s developed she now relaxes in moments that bring on bigger anxiety feelings instead of trying to fight it.)
You are more in control than you think. You just, um, have to give up a little control – relax a little more – in order to really be in control. Now there’s a mental tongue twister! If you practice I bet you can find a way to say it because, you know, I believe in you!