Seven Short Steps to Get Back to Normal
By Gina Ross, MFCC
For the last several years, as individuals and as a nation, we have been concerned about the escalation of political polarization. Confrontational conversations and demonstrations from supporters from “the other” side are commonplace, with each side thinking the other is delusional, wrong, insane, or all the above. We have strained relationships with friends and family and only absorbed the media reports that reflects our viewpoints. Half of the country is in despair about the political directives from the executive and legislative offices. The other half feels it can finally re-establish some of the control it had lost for so long. How can we become a reunified and bi-partisan country?
Our entire nation can be in peaceful co-existence and unity when these diversities come together. If we use this present polarization as a springboard, we can connect the seeming opposite forces, without clouding the differences between them, and create a new possibility for the country – the union of very worthy worldviews. This unified effort focuses on democratic values, prioritizing human rights, equal justice; protection of ethnic, racial and religious minorities, social services for the poor and a two-state solution for diplomacy. Another effort focuses on physical safety, national patriotism, prioritizing religious values and historical rights to the Holy Land; a dominant religion in the public space; a strong IDF and police.
Seven Short Steps to Get Back to Normal
Print this page and keep it nearby. It helps you release stress and regain self-regulation.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, notice how your body manifests it.
The natural reactions in times of stress, trauma, or emergencies can be calmed and changed on-the-spot if we take the following steps.
Step 1: In a safe place or wherever you are, cross your arms and tap your arms alternatively with open palms for 25 times; then take a deep breath. Keep doing it until you feel calmer.
Step 2: Press your feet hard on the ground and feel the support of the ground. Look around you and count ten different textures, such as wood, glass, plastic, etc.; or count ten different shapes, or ten objects of any one color. Now notice how you feel less agitated.
Step 3: Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach and track your breath.
Step 4: With the tips of your fingers slightly together, make the shape of a heart. Touch the tip of your tongue to the top of your palate. Close your eyes and focus on the top of your head. Track your breath. To center yourself, focus on a word, phrase or image which is a resource for you and track your breath. This exercise can calm you but will also take you into a spiritual space, an altered state of consciousness.
Step 5: Just pay attention to your inner sensations- fast heartbeat or pulse, short breath, pain or tightness in chest, arms, neck, etc. Choose one sensation. Focus your attention on that sensation, be curious with no judgment or analysis. Release/discharge, happens automatically. Signs of release are deep spontaneous breath, shaking and trembling, yawning, heat wave, warm sweat, goose bumps, gurgling of the stomach, spontaneous laughter or crying.
Step 6: Keep noticing the constricted sensations that come up and focus on and release them one at a time, just by paying attention and giving them time to discharge; keep doing this until you have recovered your calm.
Step 7: To strengthen the sense of calm you have achieved, think of something – a resource – that makes you feel stronger, calmer, or just happy. Pay attention to the soothing effect the resource has on you. Resources can be internal (faith, inner strength, resilience) and external (friends, family, activities).
Remember, stress is contagious. Our stress affects us and all the people around us, and creates a chain reaction that amplifies reactivity and fear. To prevent this, please use these tools to calm yourself first, and then give support to others. The calm we gain with this process allows us to impact others and to empower resilience and balance all around us.
Gina Ross, MFCT, is Founder/President of the International Trauma-Healing Institute in the US (ITI-US) and its Israeli branch (ITI-Israel). Born in Aleppo, Syria, Gina has lived in eight different countries on four continents. A specialist in individual and collective trauma, she authored a series of books “Beyond the Trauma Vortex into the Healing Vortex,” targeting 10 social sectors implicated in amplifying or healing trauma. She also created a “Protocol for Conflict Resolution and Successful Communication.” Gina focuses her analytical and advocacy work on the collective trauma behind politics, specifically the Israeli-Jewish/Palestinian–Arab conflict.
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