Stronger After is an educational program and is not comparable to trauma therapy. Yet, while learning about coercion, you might think about your past. Sometimes that brings up memories and feelings that are difficult.
Learning more about destructive groups and relationships or talking about things that happened to you is stressful. It is not uncommon to experience some anxiety or get triggered. A trigger can be a specific word, smell, sound - anything that connects to an old memory or feeling of yours that is painful.
When we experience stress, our brains have a tendency to go into fight-flight-or-freeze mode. Our perspective narrows and we think we don’t have options. Remember, you have many options!
Here are some tips of how to practice self-care and deal with that feeling of being losing control and being overwhelmed. We hope they help.
Take a deep breath. You don’t have to have all the answers now. Let’s face it, you might never have all the answers - and that’s okay.
Self-care takes practice. It should become a habit, just like brushing your teeth.
Taking care of yourself, taking time out and charging your batteries is not selfish! It is essential to anyone, just like sleep. You can only think clearly when you get enough down time.
Fortunately, there are many small steps towards self-care that aren’t very difficult and don’t take a lot of planning.
MOVE – reduce stress that’s building up
· Take a walk or bicycle ride.
· Go running.
· Stretch for a few minutes.
· Dance or jump around to release stress.
· Go to the gym.
· Walk up and down stairs.
· Throw rocks into a lake or sticks in a forest
SENSORY – grounds you
· Go outside and breathe in fresh air.
· Listen to running water or stare at water.
· Sit by a fire and watch the flames.
· Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
· Get a massage.
· Cuddle with a pet.
· Burn a scented candle or use essential oils.
· Walk barefoot on grass.
· Stare up at the sky.
· Close your eyes and feel the sun on your face.
· Listen to music.
· Drink tea.
· Snuggle under a cozy blanket.
RELAX – allow your body and mind to calm down
· Go for a slow walk.
· Get enough sleep.
· Take a nap.
· Pet a cat.
· Switch off your phone and computer.
FUN – distract yourself and do something you might enjoy
· Take yourself out to eat.
· Explore your city or where you live.
· Look at art.
· Listen to live music.
· Watch a movie.
· Make art or crafts.
· Walk your dog.
· Go for a photo walk.
· Read an uncomplicated book.
MENTAL – take action and feel in control
· Try a new activity.
· Take action (one small step) on something you’ve been avoiding.
· Clean out a junk drawer or a closet.
· Drive to a new place.
· Make a list.
· Immerse yourself in a crossword puzzle.
· Do a word search.
· Read something on a topic you wouldn’t normally.
SOCIAL – connect with others
· Meet up for lunch with a new or potential friend.
· Calling a friend on the phone.
· Participating in a book club.
· Joining a support group.
· Find a therapist.
EMOTIONS – try to embrace them
· Stop judging your feelings.
· Accept your feelings.
· What you’re feeling now, will not last forever.
· Write your feelings down.
· Cry when you need to.
· Laugh when you can.
· I am not alone; others have had similar experiences.
· I make mistakes, but that’s part of learning and living.
· I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to have all the answers.
· I am okay, I have a right to exist, I can love myself.
Alright, you can do it.
(The list is based on "Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress" by
Barbara Markway Ph.D.)