After the Fires, are you stuck in fight/flight overwhelm?

By | November 2, 2017
Nurse overwhelmed by stress

stuck in stress overwhelm?

If you or anyone in your circle of connections is feeling “shell shocked” as one client put it— many people are having a hard time focusing, difficulty sleeping, feeling a bit “lost,” ungrounded and  overwhelmed, distraught, anxious or agitated- these are all signs that your fight/flight system may be stuck and needs help returning to normal afer the roller coaster ride of the fires in Sonoma County.

According to Trauma Expert, Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D*., the people who recovered the best following 9-11 were those that engaged in physical based practices such as yoga, acupuncture, massage and somatic therapies such as TRE.* The key factor, according to Van der Kolk is to physically move the stress, shock and overwhelm out of the body, to release the charge of adrenaline, offset feelings of helplessness and restore a sense of calm, clarity and capacity to move forward.

People who have lost their homes and even those that haven’t may go through different stages of recovering from the impact of this traumatic experience.  I have several clients who had to litterally run for their lives and drive through flames and falling tree branches to get to safety.

They are slowly “melting out of shock” as they actively engage in support such as T.R.E., acupuncture, bodywork, yoga, being in nature, and allowing those closest to them be of support in small ways such as bringing meals over,  going for a walk,  giving them a rest break from the kids and allowing them a safe place to also release the underlying raw vulnerability that each of us felt in the face of something way more powerful then any of us could have imagined.

Be sensitive to other people’s pace of healing.

As we move forward as a community in the next months to a year,  it is important that we are sensitive to where people are in their stage of grief and trauma recovery.  Offering “silver lining” comments that start with ” At least…” you still have your car, or “at least” you’re alive….. may be true, but it may also land short on raw emotional nerves and for some it may feel like you don’t have a clue as to what they went through or what they are experiencing right now in their own inner process.

Hold your impulse to “fix their feelings”.   Listening, being present and asking what support might look like to them is the most sensitive way to offer compassion that they can recieve at their own pace. Let them help you help them.

This video by  Brenee Brown is a great reminder of the difference between sympathy and empathy- how to just be present and allow people to be human and heal.  At YogaONE and WELL Sonoma, we are holding everyone with a lot of care and sensitivity as they feel their way back to a new and different normal over the next months and even years to come. 

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