What to do when your back is up against the wall.
When your trauma wounds are triggered, or fear grips you. When you feel terrified, threatened and scared. When you feel utterly broken and unable to calm down, anxiety triggered, nervous system switched onto the sympathetic branch, try this.
Stay focused on your sensations in your body
The emergency light is on, you are in bits. Time to engage fully with your sensations in your body. Feel your felt sense. Breathe and focus on your physical experience of breathing. What do you notice about your sensations? Hot, cold, shivers, energy moving, heavy, can't breathe, pain. Whatever you notice, feel it and focus on it.
Breathe in a targeted way
Longer exhalations than your inhalations. It's that simple. Breathe out for as long as you can. Breathe in for as short as you can. This focusing on your breathing forces your brain to think you are safe. Like shoving the gears from a high gear to a low gear. It will slow the car down, slow your nervous system down, and switch off your trauma response. It will also deprive your body from getting over oxygenated, which will shut your adrenals down too. Breathe out.
Eat, even though you don't want to. Eating also shoves your nervous system into safe mode, or, you switch it into the para-sympathetic branch. You force your brain to think you are safe. You are not going to eat, if there is a tiger after you right? So eat. You should feel your body calming. Stay away from caffeine and sugar which will trigger your adrenals again.
Sleep and nap
Sleep is designed for many functions, one of them being recovery for PTSD. Not many people know that. REM sleep, which occurs all night long, but increases from about 2am onwards, is crucial for emotional uncoupling. Basically untangled your stressful emotions from your memories. REM sleep separates the stressful emotion and clears it away, leaving your memory behind, with less stress associated with it. So get your sleep.
Nap too. It will calm you and help switch off your flight/fight response. No longer than 90minutes is recommended and not after 3pm.
Walk, run, dance, pace. Move. Walking has been shown to help integrate trauma too. When we walk our eyes bob side to side, without us knowing. This lateral movement, is similar to the movement we do during REM sleep. It is said that this movement helps integrate and uncouple stressful emotional memories. Movement is also great for burning off your nervous energy and getting yourself tired for that all important sleep.
Music, again has been shown to calm and put you into a state of rest. Put on whatever calms you. It will help you take your mind off anything you might lock onto during your trauma response also. Biaural beats and Brown noise can be experimented with also.
If you are not in the mood for music, just listen to the silence. It too is tremendously calming. See what it is you need, either silence or music.
Yoga nidra is a very old mediation from the yoga tradition. It too switches your nervous system into the parasympathetic branch. Calming you down. It is another off switch for your distress. Just pop on a recording, and listen along. It's that simple.
Sitting up straight and counting your breaths, or listening along to a meditation on an app such as Headspace, will calm you down also. A few minutes of focusing on your mind on your body or breath will calm you down efficiently. Repeat as often during your time of crisis.
Hypnosis is making a come back. It is better than ever, designed by neuroscientists to hack into your brain and calm you down. Try some scripts as linked below.