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Trauma .... What is it anyway?

Traumatic Events Traumatic events are typically unexpected and uncontrollable.

They may overwhelm an individual’s sense of safety and security and leave a person feeling vulnerable and insecure in their environment.

Sustained and repeated traumatic events typically involve, chronic, repeated, and ongoing exposure.

Traumatic Stress Reactions to traumatic events can vary considerably.

Traumatic stress reactions include:

• Anxiety, fear, depression

• Intrusive thoughts (dreams, nightmares, flashbacks)

• Physical problems (headaches, ulcers, memory problems)

• Problem behaviors (misusing substances, withdrawing from others, misplaced anger)

These are normal reactions to an abnormal event or events! Traumatic Stress (Toxic Stress) Normal reactions to abnormal events

These are some elements that help with navigating trauma.

  • Orienting refers to knowing where we are in time and space. When we are oriented, we are in the present time. This allows our mind and body to calm down more easily as we notice that there is no immediate danger in the room. Simply looking around and noticing our surroundings with all our senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) can decrease our arousal.

  • Grounding is a physical resource of being present with your body, especially your feet, your legs, and the earth beneath them. When we are grounded, we have a sense of support that gives us security. When we are not grounded, we do not feel safe, secure, or relaxed. Physically, anxiety and dissociation often shunt energy up the body and away from the legs. The invitation to feel our feet on the floor, or to feel our legs move, can shift energy into our lower body and change tension patterns.

  • Being centered means knowing that your center of existence and personal power is inside of you. When we have experienced trauma, we can feel disempowered and uncentered. Being uncentered can mean having your center in other people or situations, not having a strong sense of self, or not feeling like you have any control in your life. We feel like other people or other things have power over us.

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