Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Present Traumatic Stress Disorder

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail
No one could ever imagine that collectively we would be experiencing a global pandemic of this scale.  We are navigating a terrain that is foreign, uncharted and unimaginable.  As parents we naturally want to protect our families and reassure them that we will always be there and keep them from harms way.  How then, as we “Shelter in Place”, “are we to protect them from the daily health realities that we’re all struggling with? 
Photo by Marcus Aurelius

Collectively, we are thrown “off balance” which is unfamiliar.  We are social by nature and now we are expected to do what is “unnatural”, isolate.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the common acronym used to describe the symptoms caused by witnessing or experiencing first-hand unimaginable images and events.  What we’re experiencing now is PRESENT Traumatic Stress Disorder.  With the current COVID-19 Pandemic health reports and projections, this condition will be with us for some time and will permanently change how we prepare for emergencies. This is the new reality. The uncertainty of the unknown global effects are difficult to accept or understand. We are witnessing global statistics and images that directly affect our overall mental health.
Photo by Eric Antunes from Pexels

All the while, we are searching for a limited supply of items that we once took for granted. We look for guidance from our public health experts who convey their predictions and recommendations to slow the spread and take precautions and honor Shelter in Place, (SIP),  The ongoing images of stress and exhaustion on the thousands of faces of our doctors, nurses and those in our front line of defense as they struggle to keep-up with the mounting numbers of patients is staggering.
Photo by Negative Space
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels
This collective undercurrent of fear can manifest as: anxiety, stress, insomnia, fatigue, helplessness and isolation.  Since it’s happening 24 hours a day, we are actually experiencing PRESENT Traumatic Stress Disorder on an hour to hour basis, with no relief in sight.  Add to that, daily updates on new cases of Covid-19, we are witnessing thousands of businesses that have had to make difficult decisions to close their doors, employees who are now un-employed, and an uncertainty of how this crisis will effect our future.  Our public health leaders are urging us to protect ourselves, families and communities by respectively honoring safe distancing of six (6) feet and wear masks when in public.  
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Enormous thank you to our local restaurants are stepping up to provide meal delivery to customers and in some instances are donating meals to hospitals to feed our overworked, courageous doctors, nurses, EMT’s and hospital staff that are in the front lines.

Meditation -  Get comfortable, close your eyes, breath slowly in and out, focus on the breathing, immerse yourself completely.  Make is a daily habit, practice at least once a day.  Focus on slowing each inward breath.  Mentally visualize relaxing each body part beginning with your feet.
Our coping skills have never been tested like this before because we are unprepared for to cope at this level for weeks, months or longer.  Coping skills can be different for each of us, here are just a few:

Exercise – Get outside for fresh air and sunshine, exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins, reduces stress and anxiety and is beneficial to overall wellness.
Deep breathing   -  Is calming and directs attention away from fearful or stressful thoughts.  Breath in and our deeply through your nose slowly, exhaling slowly through your mouth.  Repeat a phrase over and over that is calming and peaceful.

Smile   -  Smile with your whole face -  smiling can help you and others feel connected.
Botanical scents   – Fresh herbs pined to your collar such as Lavender, eucalyptus, help relax your mind.
Music  -  Listening to your favorite music is calming, maybe sing along or invite others to sing along with you,
Social Support – Sharing your experiences with others who can truly empathize will help you feel less alone.  Stay connected via phone, social media, waive to your neighbors
Laughter  -  Find something each day that makes you laugh.  It is one of our most human qualities and science has proven the healing benefits of it and the best part is that its free.
-Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and timely!! I was just admiring the wildflowers on the PET this morning.