Written by Tascha Macchia - Wilda
There is a lot going on in the world at the moment. A lot of beautiful moments, but also a lot of devastation and suffering. In the age of social media, we see it all. This can be a good thing as it often brings awareness, help and resources to where it is needed most, however it can also be overwhelming to our nervous system to be constantly bombarded with this news.
Our bodies go into a fight or flight state as we try to navigate our way through these horrible events, and even as we try to help our community if we were not directly affected ourselves. Our bodies start to produce adrenaline as a result of this dangerous or stressful situation. Adrenaline is a hormone that sets up your sympathetic nervous system to fight or flee, meaning it is a super useful tool for our bodies to harness in intense situations as it allows us to perform some incredible feats of strength and stamina that we would other times struggle to achieve. However, often this stress remains long after that initial adrenaline burst as we deal with the aftermath and traumas created by certain events. It can be days, weeks or years before we even realise our body is running in a state of stress and anxiety, and without this acknowledgement and awareness it is a hard feeling to shake.
Speaking of ‘hard to shake’… shaking your body after an adrenaline inducing moment is actually shown to release some of that stressful energy. If you have ever watched animal documentaries, after a prey gets chased by a predator (if they make it out alive) they will intuitively shake their bodies to rid themselves of the stress. Humans often don't have this same instinct and can end up letting that stress simmer for far too long. Cortisol is the other hormone that surges in a fight or flight situation, which is a hormone that can hinder some bodily functions that are non essential or harmful in that situation. The functions that it curbs however, are ones that can seriously affect quality of life, long term. Cortisol alters immune system function and suppresses the digestive, reproductive system and growth processes. Our bodies can not run optimally when any of these systems are inhibited, and the long term effects of running in this state can be very detrimental to our health.
These are not easy situations to navigate, human emotions are nuanced and very individual. These primary responses that happen in our body after a life threatening/altering situation can have a massive ripple effect in our lives. Often focus is put on how to physically help ourselves or others through the trauma, let's remember that the emotional toll can be longer lasting if we don't find ways to release that stress.
Start by shaking it out, it may feel weird but i promise you, you can feel it work after. Whether you dance, do yoga or pilates, jump on a trampoline with your kids… any low intensity movement can help relieve some stress. Try to avoid HIIT for a while as it is perceived by your body as stress. Try to limit social media to necessary spreading and consuming of news, switch it off once you feel you have done enough that day to help bring awareness, solidarity and aid to a situation. Some days don't use it at all, it's ok, you can still be helpful without it, sometimes more-so.
Try meditations before bed, sleep is often hard when our minds are racing, but it is one of the most important tools to recover and rebuild our immune system.
Talk to others, so many people want to help, some won't know the right thing to say, but often just speaking to another human will help relieve some of that tension. Be kind and try to work from a place of love, getting annoyed at others or situations can sometimes just cause more anxious and angry energy in yourself. Moments of annoyance are natural and sometimes a great motivator, but staying stuck in that emotional state can harm your mental and physical health.
Whether you were the one directly affected, or you are the community helping…the age old saying goes “you can not pour from an empty cup”. We all need to look after ourselves to best help and recover x