Building Resiliency in Challenging Times

Acknowledge, Express, Act, Reconnect 

All of us, at some point in our lifetime, have experienced loss or change. It is the one thing that unites us

as human beings. Grief and stress are the natural response to any loss or change in our lives – even positive change. Life will never be the same.

In these challenging times, we are living in what we call 360 Grief/Stress. Every area in impacted, every part of our life is affected. It is invisible and at this time has no endpoint. The two factors that make stress more intense are - being out of control and being isolated. Whether you are dealing with family members at home, or the enforced isolation of the pandemic, social unrest or personal losses - Stress is a spiral of feelings and reactions. It is not a line with a beginning and an end. It can be a roller coaster of surprising reactions.

We refer to them as landmines, because they are sudden and unexpected. There are three types of
landmines: 
  • Sensory Reminders 
  • Memory Reminders 
  • Time Reminders 
Trauma research shows us that stress and trauma are taken in through the five senses, so even when our mind is keeping a distance, we are still imprinting in our brain all of the details of the illness, the trauma, the pain. Stress is taken in the body and processed through the senses. Caregiving and response professionals utilize their sensory input for vital information in performing their job on a daily basis. Response professionals, whether working with critical incidents, illness or traumatic grief, can absorb and respond to loss through the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. As a result, stress/trauma has imprinted on several sensory paths. This occurs in both witnessed trauma and imagined trauma.

Trauma and stress reactions know no time. It doesn't matter how long ago the trauma happened, sometimes, when we hit a landmine, it may feel like it happened yesterday.

Act:
•Create as much meaning and ceremony as you can to bring completion to the event

-Do specific, concrete actions to facilitate the changes you are experiencing. Creating your own ceremonies can be very useful, often combining traditions that are meaningful with your own inspirations.

-Complete and bring closure to any unfinished business or unclear interactions with co-workers, friends, family and clients/patients.

-Do something playful, fun, and relaxing that is totally disconnected from work to balance the work stress.

-Normalize the rest of your life as much as possible. Do not change too much at one time. If there are other life changes you have no control over, acknowledge them. Realize that you only have to deal with the most pressing issue RIGHT NOW.

Reconnect:

Give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge your victories. Look back at what you have survived and accomplished. Acknowledge what is still meaningful and good in your life right now.

Do something fun and life-affirming which rewards you for a job well done.
Take care, be safe, and stay healthy,
Dr. Janet Childs Director, Bay Area CISM Team

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