Exercising Coping Skills

Too Stressed To Meditate?.

Wow – this article by PhD Laura Kerr contains really helpful coping strategies and specific methods to “unwind” a hyperaroused defense system as typically prevalent in individuals coming from a history of (complex/chronic) PTSD. I think, I have identified a number of things I may intuitively been practicing for quite some time and with fairly significant results. For example, previously, I’d become so uncomfortable lining up at the cash register in the supermarket from a perceived threat of people being behind me that I had to find less frequented times, where my chances of being the only customer at the cash register were greater. Another example is riding the public train into the next bigger city – it would give me stress to the point of panicking and contemplating to pull the emergency break and get off the train…

By exercising mindfulness as to my body’s symptoms and then doing something I call “cognitive intermission”, i.e. silently articulate self-soothing, reaffirmative messages in my mind to modulate those physical manifestations and sensations of fear, I think I have succeeded in vastly rolling back some of the more progressed fear symptoms and gain some control over the fight/flight reflex system. The downside is that this only works well at waking times. When falling asleep for example or waking up, my body still responds extremely sensitively to noises, small vibrations from neighbours walking around in their appartment and generally unforeseeable, sudden “events”. In other words: I guess, above discussed method has its limits, but it has given me some, if not significant relief. I am a lot better able now to cope with situations I previously wasn’t able to put myself in any longer.

It’s still a far cry from leading an active daily life as Dr. Kerr calls it. But I have managed to come closer to that again. Maybe if I found an environment where typical triggers are less frequent, maybe I’ll even become (semi-) productive again one day. It still works fairly well in musical environments – if there is not too much disruption from plans constantly changing from one minute to the next (which, unfortunately, is the nature of this particular walk of life…). I guess, I’m trying to say: Keeping at it pays off as is the case with most any human activity: Practice makes “perfect”. Well… I’ll settle for “manageable” 🙂

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