Developing a Secure Self During Traumatic Economic History

After experiencing a traumatic event your life does not get better by chance following any traumatic experience with bouts of depression it will be all about the choices you make. There is nothing left to chance or accident when we deliberately choose to cultivate self-compassion. It is with courage along with persistent practice we begin to rebuild the secure self. Life will present many challenges as we plan the recovery journey with firm resolve after any traumatic experience. For many, even in secure employment, this is how 2023 looks, it is a time when even holding on to what we have secured in life can become a real challenge. The only way to recover is to create an environment where we feel as safe as we can and this includes holding on to our mental health. When we feel we are in danger the anxiety response is the body's default setting and acting in the best interests of your safety should always be listened to and acted upon. Your first step towards healing is to become safe in a healthy environment. 

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Anxiety and trauma hijack your nervous system to a large extent and take control, especially if it's been ongoing and has not been treated, people seek treatment for anxiety, often very late, it can go on for a considerable time until the level is such that seeking treatment becomes the only way to recover. By this time a lot of sufferers have forgotten what it feels like for the central nervous system to feel regulated and safe and the effects of trauma become stored in the body. Counselling from an informed approach can help you understand and cope with the effects of trauma and pressure you feel and are not sure how to address.

The Anxiety of Trauma 

Trauma can begin from a wide array of events it is not always being trapped in a car crash or escaping a burning building. Trauma can be more subtle maybe you have found the strength to walk away from a bad relationship or you witnessed something so horrific you found it difficult to cope. Even the economic downturn can take its toll  In the case of many today. Trauma can arise from just finding the basics in life. The definition of trauma is a pervasive problem. The root of trauma comes from exposure to an emotionally disturbing or life-threatening event that results in adverse effects on mental health. The malfunctioning aspects range from mental – physical and can encompass social, and emotional functioning this can include spiritual well-being.

When it comes to anxiety we never completely lose the feelings associated. It is more about learning how to work with it and developing a healthy relationship with our anxiety levels while coping with uncertainty There is a positive side to moderate anxiety acting as motivation for change but if we allow it to run riot it will control our thoughts and convince us of unhelpful thoughts to see many what-if scenarios. What Ifs are those difficult little thoughts that build in the mind and prevent you from putting forth an effort to have fun or feel free or less pressurised. For the sufferer, they are indeed very real and can be debilitating. This is where there is work to be done in diminishing the level and learning how not to allow anxious thoughts to rule us. The main causes are triggering events and how safe we see ourselves. It becomes important the sufferer feels heard and validated at the same time as seeking to reduce the intensity of such feelings that are present. Indeed it is the anxiety sufferer who knows how it feels for them that matters. The key is working with these feelings expressed needs to be one of validation and not dismissal.

Anxiety a Part of Global Healing 

When we experience a loss we can feel anxious when we lose someone very close it may be very hard to feel we will ever see our world in that same light ever again. It might feel that security has gone. You begin to feel vulnerable and feel the loss of security that the relationship once offered. When we consider the pre-pandemic world we were all so sure the world was a more stable place suddenly there was mass panic on the streets our sense of safety was ripped from us. It can feel hard a lot of people do not any longer feel the same levels of security they once did as we begin to question what comes next. 

We faced an epidemic of world-changing fear no sooner did it quieten down than we woke to find Russia at war with Ukraine and now we have the financial crisis. Today people are losing employment and many families' homes. We have to cope with uncertainty change and transition. Once we have lived through such events it's hard to feel certain about anything anymore for fear of a repeat. However, there is developmental work to be done we cannot just give in to fear this will break the strongest of us. At its core, we are living in a time of transition and change we need to strengthen ourselves. There is a usefulness in anxiety when we use it for the good. Resilience is a skill we need to develop. It is only by coming together we can survive. We are already seeing examples of this in food banks and now heat banks as sad as it all has become. Before this, it was said that loneliness was the killer.

We need to learn how to manage anxiety until we can understand our anxiety we get caught up in a behavioural cycle. It all begins when we have an anxious feeling we get that feeling that something bad is about to happen to us. What we do next makes a lot of difference. Most of us would begin to panic rather than normalise the feeling. We need to acknowledge we have an anxious thought entering our mind and do all we can to return to normal thinking. 

I hear you say ok so my mind is sending out a warning im in danger and you are saying you want me to normalise this feeling. The biological facts are if we stay with the thought we will draw ourselves into the cycle of anxiety this then leads to chemical changes taking place in the brain and our thinking brain begins to shut down our blood pressure begins to rise maybe our heart rate increases as we become more hypervigilant (on the lookout for perceived danger) and our central nervous system becomes altered to high alert all as a result of fearful thinking. Our body functions according to the signals we send ourselves. As we address our anxiety we need to consider are coping strategies. What are your anxious Thoughts? What do they look like? How do they appear? How do I behave when Im feeling anxious? Do I use anything to escape my anxiety? Do I use avoidance techniques such as checking on the internet or indulging in a glass of something to settle the nerves as I wonder if I can go a month without missing a bill payment?

Here are a few steps that will help you manage yourself better.

Have you ever felt fearful of a developing situation and felt you need a drink? Although this might for some be an automatic go-to for short-term relief alcohol and drugs can affect the ability to control your emotional response and can be a factor in poor decision-making if anxiety is kicking in your thinking brain is shutting down.

Take positive steps and go for a good long walk. When we put ourselves in a natural environment it often helps release the tension that is developing. Even gentle exercise can increase levels of self-esteem and make a difference in how we feel.

Not sleeping well impacts how we feel this in turn affects our ability to be able to cope with things that come up for us.

Learning to deal with the pressure of stress that develops for many reasons while gaining better levels of control can feel very empowering.

With the help of professional counselling, it is possible to increase your emotional resilience in handling challenging emotions and discovering better emotional regulation.

If you have ever been unfortunate enough to experience a full panic attack you will know you cannot think your way out you need to feel your way out. Our thinking holds more control over us than many might be aware Anxiety is a challenge a tough one, but it's amazing, with a little practice and diligence, you can start to make beneficial changes in looking after ourself. 

When it comes to dealing with anxiety we can become anxious about our next bout of anxiety and/or depression if we are not careful. When will it appear? How will I deal with it? Am I going to attend the wedding this weekend or will I come up with an excuse? 

When we worry we might tell ourselves we are facing our problems and we have control over them in reality we are increasing our anxiety, You might want to argue that if you don’t think about the problems you have you won't be prepared and they won't just go away. What if we were to set aside a duration of say thirty minutes each day to look at your problems instead of allowing them to blight your days? This removes you from the inner daily churn of the anxiety cycle so many people have had traumatic experiences in their past, it's such a hard cycle to break, but some tools and techniques can assist you in doing that.

The physicality of anxiety is huge the body reacts to thoughts of anxiety and anxious feelings. The complete central nervous system becomes involved with increased levels of anxiety. Learning about and calming the central nervous system is a key aspect of anxiety control. We can hold thoughts that build up until we feel we are having a heart attack and feel like we are dying in effect a panic attack as unpleasant as it feels will pass. If you would like a free thirty-minute call to discuss any anxiety you feel you hold please feel welcome to contact me from my profile. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London E1 & E14
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Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Specialising in Anxiety
London E1 & E14

I am an integrative counsellor registered in London. Specializing in alcohol reduction, trauma, anxiety & depression issues. I work online across the UK helping you raise and develop your individual self-worth

We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point

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