I have had the great pleasure of learning about our bodies and its response to stress and trauma across the years. I continue to be in awe of the ability of our bodies to protect ourselves automatically, through a series of biological events resulting in an experience called the “Flight, Fight, or Freeze” response. It is where we may exit stage left very quickly, aggressively take action, or become still or quiet – all valid protective responses to a threat. This automatic body-brain response makes sense, as during stressful events we decide that survival must take the lead. It is protection at all cost.
Things however can come unstuck. Sometimes this response occurs in situations where the threat is not as high as what our body senses tell us that it is. That alarm switch is flicked and we can respond in a way that surprises us – aggression, withdrawal, agitation etc. This can happen time and time again, and we begin to question if there is something wrong with us or start to believe there is nothing we can do.
There is however a lot that can be done. It starts with Awareness First. This means getting to know what is going on inside our minds and our bodies both during stressful and pleasurable events. We get to know ourselves not by judging what we do, but instead kindly and curiously observing what is happening – taking some nice deep calm breaths as we do.
Like many things in life a good tip is to start small. Start with observing your self during a pleasant event, notice what happens in your mind and body. Then progress to some uncomfortable experiences. Practice does make progress however when we are aware we are engaging our brain in a different way with our experience. From these small changes big ones can follow, however, Awareness First!
If this blog as raised some concerns or been triggering please all Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you’d like professional support or guidance with awareness skills, contact Iris Psychology on 0411 59 44 21 or talk to your General Practitioner for alternative mental health support.