June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Sharon Merriman-Nai discusses this often invisible form of trauma, where to find help, and how we...
The results of trauma often linger in our lives, minds, and bodies long past the traumatic event itself. In many cases, this results in unmanaged stress and recurring anxiety. This stress and anxiety bring with it all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, including shock, anger, guilt, or an unliftable heaviness. These emotions, which are normal and acceptable reactions to the loss of safety, security, life, limb, or property can be overwhelming and sometimes paralyzing. One way to navigate those feelings and move towards wholeness and healing is to acknowledge a great or a higher power, to establish inner peace, or to develop spiritual strength.
Since stress is our brain’s response to demands and pressure, many things trigger stress, including trauma. Stress spans the spectrum from Acute (short-term) to Chronic (long-term) often resulting in feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Therefore, we must train, or retrain, ourselves to see hope in the most difficult times and help as something within our reach.
Experts believe that focusing on spiritual well-being combats depression, boosts mental health, and buffers against daily stress. In essence, spirituality or religious involvement helps promote or propel us into healthier habits, a positive disposition, and altruism by helping us to focus on something other than our pain, fear, suffering or situation.
So, in our moments of anxiety and lingering anxiety we must give ourselves permission to:
- Seek and feel a sense of greater purpose.
- Connect to something or someone beyond ourselves.
- Release the need to control the details and outcome of our situations, context, and circumstances.
To quickly calm yourself in any situation, try one of these spiritual options:
- Breathe deeply for 60 breaths focusing your attention on each breath. With the “in” breath, breathe in goodness, grace, forgiveness, and new life. With the “out” breath, release your cares, concerns, anxiety, guilt, and fears.
- Find a song that transports you to a happier place, time, and mindset. Perhaps it is a religious song like Amazing Grace or Yes, Jesus loves me, or maybe it is a song that reminds you of time with family, the sound of children playing, a car ride, a long trip, or falling in love. Play that song until you feel enliven, lifted, or at ease. Play that song until you can hear yourself singing or humming it even after the music stops.
- Engage one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or movement. For example, brew a cup of coffee and embrace the joy of a new day, a new morning, new mercies, new blessings, starting over. Or stand on the steps and feel the cold air or cool breeze and embrace the changing seasons of life that usher us into new possibilities, fresh changes, and seismic shifts.
- Pray, Journal or Read – Words are healing, cathartic, soothing, life giving and empowering. Whether they are words and thoughts that you put to pen or articulate through journaling or poetry; or words written for you and too you through scriptures, devotions or books. Embrace the freedom of words, allow yourself to become what you read or write. Embrace the positivity, the affirmations, the inspirations and live into those words.
You may have to come back to your current context, face another up-hill battle, wrestling with your difficulty reality but take a respite, a moment to do you! A moment to have peace in the center of life’s chaos.