Facing Fears and Dealing with Trauma

We all have trauma. Some experiences are worse than others, some easier to deal with. For many we pretend we aren’t dealing with trauma and thus keep our survival brain operating instead of our socially engaged learning brain. This hurts us all and gets worse with time. Trauma impacts your physical health, relationships, and ability to be successful. Is it time you faced your fears and healed your trauma?

As we move through this season of endings and watch mother nature let go, it’s a good reminder to reconnect with parts of ourselves that have been wounded and shunned. 

During this time of year many spiritual practices focus on reconnecting with the past, honoring those who have come before, and remembering we are connected to a much larger system – nature, family, seasons, history, ancestors, and even traumas. 

I am not affiliated with this movie. I just really like it. I like the concept and spirit of how important it is to honor our ancestors and ourselves at the same time while holding space for all that the family story may contain.

Past trauma keeps us stuck and living as though the bad will happen again. This year what might happen if you faced your fears, looked deeper at your family stories, beliefs, patterns, and trauma to truly heal your body and soul?

In honor of Halloween (Samhain/Día de los Muertos) this month, let’s honor the past and reconnect with our true selves even if it scares us. Many of us avoid things we are fearful of. This makes sense. Usually when we feel fear there is danger near and we need to move away from it to survive. 

The way the brain is set up, the amygdala is wired to help us understand danger, where it comes from, and what to do about it. Its signal inspires for us to get away from things we deem as dangerous. Unfortunately sometimes things we believe are dangerous are just what we believe, they truly aren’t dangerous for us, but caught in belief patterns of fear based on past experiences. What they are doing is hitting the danger, danger, danger button of our brains based on past experiences. It is linking to times when we were afraid or when our ancestors were in danger. But it may not be true today. 

When the amygdala gets going it can be hard to break from the cycle of fear. This is part of what is not working in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result of a traumatic experience – physical or mental – our nervous system gets highjacked. This highjacking keeps us “looping” in hyper-vigilant states looking for what is wrong, even after the danger is over. 

In addition to being on edge for what danger is coming at us, we can also go into what is known as a hypo-arousal state. This numbed out feeling, lack of connection, and sense of being apart from our experiences is a survival mechanism to keep us alive. Often we bounce between the two states and feel more and more fearful and confused. 

Our bodies are pretty brilliant when it comes to making sure the species goes on. However if we do not heal traumatic wounding and reset the nervous system back toward health it wreaks havoc on our immune system, cardiovascular system, our relationships, our ability to work, and our concentration and thoughts to name a few items. Research continues to link trauma to a number of chronic conditions, like chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, obesity, sleep disorders, headaches, and digestive issues. To heal it we must work with our dysregulated state and allow ourselves to build capacity to stay present to what is happening in front of us now, not what we have experienced in the past. 

In therapy we often work using pendulum states – moving between an escalated nervous system presentation to safety – while the therapist helps regulate the whole system. We work to build what is called a window of tolerance for sensitivity and stress while adding healthy coping skills back into the system. 

Once the nervous system is reset and the healthy coping skills learned, it’s not like the trauma didn’t happen, but instead of being a gaping wound that hurts to move, it’s a scar that may be sensitive to similar experiences. It’s not hurt anymore, but it reminds us that we had a scary or terrifying experience in our past. It helps us see how strong we are and helps us learn to be more kind to ourselves and others. 

As we turn toward trauma it does not mean we have to repeat all the details of the event(s). Often we don’t know them. The brain is good at managing states so we don’t even remember all the ugly stuff we experienced, however the body knows. The experience is still categorized in experiences and needs to be “filed into the right chapter” of life. We do this in a variety of ways, but telling the story isn’t necessary.

Click here to visit Therapy-At-Home Workbooks.

As we begin to face what fears we have, we slowly become more free. We learn that not everything that was will happen again, not everyone we meet will hurt us, and not every trip outside our home ends badly. We slowly begin to see that life is full of good things and bad things. Things we like and things we don’t. Little by little we come out of our shell and heal. We get stronger. We get braver. We get more connected to all that is around us. 

During this time of letting go, closing down, honoring ancestors, facing goblins, ghosts, and ghouls. Are you willing to face your own demons? Then let’s get started. 


If you are ready to face your own demons … contact us and we can help you determine the next steps on your personal journey. Studio B ~ Create. Your. Self.

Studio B is the culmination of my journey as an exercise scientist turned psychologist. Visit us and see how we can help you Create. Your.Self

4 Ways to Relieve Household Stress While Self-Isolating

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have put lots of pressure on parents over the past couple of months, and while you have a bit more freedom to leave your home now, your options for activities are still rather limited. As you try to balance working from home with your kids hanging around and taking care of your other domestic responsibilities, you may struggle with rising tensions in your household. Here’s how to address a few potential sources of tension and create a happier environment within your home.

Guest Post By: Emma Grace Brown Emmagracebrown.com+emma@emmagracebrown.com

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Has your family been neglecting exercise and healthy eating since you all began isolating? Practicing unhealthy habits can make you feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. It’s easier to manage household tensions when everyone is prioritizing their physical and mental health. Plus, focusing on fitness can be a fantastic way to release tension! Develop a solid workout routine, and choose exercises that the whole family can join in on.

It’s also important to clean up your diet. When you’re spending more time working out, it can be hard to find opportunities to cook, so Play Date Fitness recommends using an electric pressure cooker to concoct tasty, nutritious meals with little effort. 

Eliminate Fear

The connection between psychology and physical movement just can’t be ignored. When you feel fearful, it’s because your nervous system is in overdrive, and adrenaline is coursing through your body. Let’s face it – this has been a scary time, and your family may need to be proactive about addressing those fears. You may already know that exercising helps you maintain a more positive attitude, but what about slow, mindful movement? 

You can incorporate both meditation and yoga into your family fitness routines. These practices can help you relieve stress and process uncomfortable emotions. When you’re doing yoga with young children, Yogi Approved suggests doing poses together when possible – for example, you can pick up your toddler and rock them during tree pose! If you want to go further in this journey, you can also check in with therapist and wellness coach Stacey Reuille-Dupont, who offers telehealth services so you can connect from anywhere.

Indulge Your Sense of Adventure

Want to help your whole family become healthier and have fun while you’re doing it? If you’ve been cooped up indoors, it’s time to embrace the warm weather and get some fresh air. Head out the front door to enjoy some wellness-boosting outdoor activities together! After all, exercise and time in nature can perk you up, and everyone in your household probably needs to stretch their legs and blow off some steam. Activities like hiking, biking, running, and even rock climbing are great for people of all ages, and your kids may even discover a new favorite hobby during your outdoor excursions! 

No More Boredom

After spending such a long time isolated with your family, everyone in your household may be feeling a little bored – and you know that when your kids are bored, they’re more likely to get into squabbles! If you suspect that boredom is the cause of rising tensions in your household, it’s time to help your kids find some new hobbies. 

Both kids and adults might enjoy gaming together. If your family wants to get into gaming, you just need to make sure you have the right tools! For instance, if your children are interested in online multiplayer games like Fortnite, you’re going to need a strong connection to the internet that won’t drop while they’re playing. Companies like Verizon can set your household up with fiber optic connections, which allow for smoother gameplay and faster download speeds.

If you feel like everyone in your family has been on edge since the beginning of this pandemic, you can begin taking steps to ease these tensions. By prioritizing your health, making more time for outdoor activities, and leaning into mindfulness, you can embrace your time at home together and take advantage of self-isolation. 

Photo via Pexels

Creating A Boundary Bubble

Many people feel like they do not have control over what impacts them from the environment. They feel overtaken by the sounds, smells, other people around them. This mediation offers an opportunity to create a personal space bubble and take back your individuality in relation to all that is around you.

Ready to Make a Change?

And as always, if you are struggling you can schedule a 15 min Q&A appointment to see if it’s time to give yourself the gift of therapy. When else can you talk about yourself for an hour with someone trained to deeply listen to your core, not just the story you tell yourself. 

Upcoming Programs:

Social Distancing While Parenting and Being a Social Worker

How many of us are feeling the effects of trying to balance our lives while social distancing? In this post a good friend of mine outlines her experience parenting, while working from home, while worrying about the effects of the global pandemic on her children. I think many of us can relate on all sorts of levels – parents or not.

Guest Post By: Megan Murphy, LCSW

I begin writing some scattered thoughts after the third night of tossing and turning and waking up with a sore jaw and neck, from all of the things my brain must be trying to work out at night.  I notice that mornings, I tend to feel strong and hopeful.  I am noticing that afternoons are really hard, and my mind truly wishes it could download or shut down, sleep or reset.

I am familiar with anxiety and depression.  I have dealt with these emotions at many different times in my life, and overall, I have been able to overcome them, or at least survive, cope with, and accept them in my life. 

This has been a very confusing time for my mind, like it is, for so many others.  My career as a Social Worker, who works with many vulnerable populations, including the severely and persistently mentally ill, has given me more strength and hope than I could ever explain in words.  I have seen people survive and thrive in circumstances, I am quite sure I would never survive.  I’ve seen the communities of the homeless, helping one another, and caring for one another.  I’ve seen families doing their best to support their own, with limited resources, sometimes limited intellectual capacities, and very often, with judgment from the outside world.  My career has taught me so much about resilience.  I am so grateful for these clients and to so many people I have worked with along the way, who put their hearts, souls, and brains into this work.  I have no doubt that the clients I work with, have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them.  I THANK them to no end!

It has been heartbreaking not to be able to support these people face to face, to help get them the resources that they need now more than ever.  However, I am grateful for a job that knows that keeping all of us (clients included) healthy in the short term, will only help, not hurt our mission, to help them in the long term.  Or, as a wise man (thanks Dad) told me, “sometimes you have to stay in the fight, to win the fight”. 

Parenting has been a whole different level of anxiety, acceptance, and resilience during this time.  I have two sons, ages 14 and 9.  We are beginning to work on schooling from home.  I have so many worries about this time in life for them.  For my 14-year-old, I worry about this time in his life.  He is supposed to be working on independence, separating himself from his parents and working on finding himself.  Peers are also such a huge part of learning and growing at his age.  It’s so hard to tell him that we don’t have answers about when life may be “normal” again.  It is so hard to say “no” to so many requests.  I am so proud of him.  I can tell he is frustrated and worried.  It always seems that right when it’s needed, he invites his brother into his room to play games with him.  He is an amazing human being.  I worry about my skills to work and teach him from home, while also paying attention to emotional needs.  

For my 9-year-old, I worry about his enthusiastic, open view of the world and an absolute need to connect, move, and be excited about life!  Lately, he has denied every request to go outside on a walk.  At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed he is anxious about it.  “Is it safe”, “what if I see a friend on a walk”, “Can we talk to each other”, “am I sick”, “are you sick”, “will we all get sick”.  “Are we safe”.  While my husband and I do our best to reassure him, we don’t have the answers.  He seems to feel best when saying, “family first, right mom”?  

While these things worry me, I am reminded of how much gratitude I have.  I do not have to parent without a partner.  We are able to do this as a team and take turns when the other is feeling overwhelmed.  So many do not have this and they are HEROES!  Sometimes, I get frustrated with my own anxieties and worries because I am SO aware of the hard times others have and are experiencing.  My life has been so easy overall.  I have never needed for a thing, and have always had an abundance of love in my life.  I feel guilty and ashamed sometimes that I have so much fear. 

I have parents who give me strength.  My father, a Vietnam marine, has this way of saying just the right things, to keep me focused and strong, during hard times.  My mom, an independent woman, who has been a caretaker of many kinds, keeps me sane with love and constant communication and ideas of ways to keep myself busy.  My brothers are both amazing and show me love and support, and I hope I do the same for them.

I have an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who check-in, send me love, and inspire me.  

I have friends that keep me grounded, strong, and grateful.  Each of them gives me something so special and unique and I cannot imagine life, or this crisis, without them.  We send each other videos, love, and ideas.  Let me tell you, these are amazing women!

The lack of answers is what continues to be the hardest.  I told my friend Jamie the other day, that while I am so aware that I am not alone, I “feel” alone.  She said, “yes, we are trying to accept and process something we have no answers to, and only fear.  We feel alone because we are not allowed to be around others”.  That felt so validating.  

So, for the moment, I plan to give myself grace.  I plan to accept that some moments I will feel strong, and others I may not.  I will do my best to show up for my family, friends, children, husband, and clients, with love, and understanding, that they too, will have good moments and not so good moments.

Upcoming Programs: