Ours is an excessively stressed culture in the unwholesome expectations placed on us by the demands of a work environment that grants too few vacation days and often involves long commutes in traffic. Then there is the unwholesome food used to fuel bodies that are over stressed and sleep deprived. And that is just the start.
P.T.S.D. sufferers stress more easily and more intensely than individuals without P.T.S.D. In addition, many people deal with stress-filled emotionally abusive relationships. Or they grew up with emotionally abusive parents, the result of which can leave someone in a relatively constant state of low grade stress or worse:
“Children raised in dysfunctional households tend to retain the low-grade state of vigilance they experienced as a child throughout their life, and this state affects the intensity of their arousal response to all of the nuances of life experience.” ~Robert Scaer, M.D.
The net result of excess stress is excess cortisol pumping or seeping into the body – the enemy of good physical and psychological health. Managing stress well is a key to good relationships, including good parenting. There are a number of aspects to stress management: attitude adjustment, planning, problem solving, exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and rest, and one that does not get enough attention is what I term, deconditioning.
The “the low-grade state of vigilance” Dr. Scaer describes and the reactivity of the P.T.S.D. sufferer are not conscious processes. They are the result of stimulus response conditioning and are regulated by the emotional memory system housed in the amygdala and require a mindbody approach. The amygdala is involved in regulation of autonomic processes of the nervous system like breath rate and heart rate. Therapies that return breath and heart rate to a normal state are required. Therapies that are useful in deconditioning are graduated desensitization, breathwork, visualization, massage, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, Reiki, NLP, EMDR, music therapy and mindfulness (meditation).
Basically, deconditioning is interrupting the overreaction of the mindbody to conditioned stimuli. This usually involves inducing a state of relaxation when fear or a feeling of excessive stress is present (including low-grade vigilance), thus stopping or slowing the excess flow of cortisol. This is a process that takes repeated sessions and needs to become a lifetime habit if you have lived with excess stress for a long time. The result is improved mindbody health.
Stress Detox Sessions: Take a mini-vacation from chronic stress through a 2 hour session of meditation, music, and guided imagery on Wednesdays starting around 6 or 6:30 pm. The goal is to break the pattern of chronic excess stress. Please let me know if are interested: Contact Noreen.