Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Women's History Month Outro...

Many women in my life have helped me know that I am not alone. We have to be courageous because what we choose to say and do affects us all. I am thankful for all of the women- past, present, and future- who have positively impacted the lives of those around them. I want to be one of those women. And, I hope that you do, too (guys, we need y'all, too, to be the change that you wish to see).

As we honor Women's History Month, consider your responses to the following:

We want to live in a world where...

We want to live in communities where...

We want to live in neighborhoods where...

We want to live in families where...

We want to be in relationships where...

What unique gifts do you have to offer? You affect those around you simply by existing. But, you are much more than that! You belong here. And, you matter.

May we create the lives that we desire.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coping With Night Terrors

I wanted to follow up my last blog post on sleep with a piece about night terrors. A night terror is a traumatic nightmare that can leave you reeling- perhaps waking up crying or screaming. Thank goodness, night terrors pose no actual threat to our safety but it sure feels that way at the time. Coping safely with night terrors and other symptoms of trauma is possible and essential to our healing.

Healing from trauma is a process of re-estrablishing safety in our lives. The same is true with coping with night terrors. Upon waking, we must ground ourselves to the here-and-now, reminding ourselves that we are safe, now. If "safe" is too triggering a word, try using the word "calm" or another word that works better for you instead. In healing from trauma, you are the expert of your experience.

Some ways to cope with night terrors are:
  • Remind yourself that you are safe, now. It was just a dream. 
  • Notice where you are by labeling the objects in your room.
  • Try putting an imaginary buffer between you and your negative feelings.
  • Feel your feet. Wiggle your toes. Tense and release your hands.
  • Get out of bed and move around. Feel the support of the ground.
  • Find a pet or loved one who is capable of offering comfort.
  • Prepare yourself a snack or a glass of water or tea. 
  • Write a compassionate letter to yourself. Be your own best friend.
  • Think of a real or imaginary calm or safe place. Notice every detail.
  • Turn your attention towards a book, crossword puzzle, music, or tv.
As painful as they are, night terrors are a normal symptom of trauma. Research suggests that night terrors might be one way that our bodies try to process traumatic memories, which are stored differently than normal memories. Our intentions are wise but, at the same time, we have to feel safe in order to heal. When reliving the trauma through night terrors, flashbacks, thoughts, or memories, we heal by coping safely.

If you are a woman interested in practicing effective grounding techniques and finding your best coping strategies, you may wish to check out a group I am facilitating at The Banyan Tree Center called Transcending Trauma. The group meets Wednesday evenings. New members are always welcome. Contact our intake coordinator or email me directly at to enroll.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting Your Zzz's...

How many times have we been awake in bed at night, trying desperately to fall asleep? But, were we really trying to fall asleep or beating ourselves up for not being able to fall asleep instead? You know how it goes. How will I handle my day on no sleep? What's wrong with me? Why can't I just go to sleep? When we fight our experience, it tends to only make it worse. Why not try a more useful approach instead?

The next time you find yourself in the common scenario described above, what would it be like to...

  • Tell yourself, "Resting is as good as sleeping." "It's good to rest." "I can let myself just rest."
  • Count your breath. Inhaling, 2, 3. And, exhaling, 2, 3, 4, 5. Just finding your own rhythm. 
  • Get up and move if that's what your body is calling for and then return to bed when you're ready.
  • Listen to a book on tape or guided meditation that tends to lull you to a sleepier place.
There are things we can do ever before we're in bed that are proven to help us catch some Zzzz's...
  • Reduce your screen time before bed and make sure there are no screens visible in the bedroom.
  • Have some chamomile tea before bed. Cut out any caffeine intake for several hours before bed.
  • Get some physical activity in somehow in the earlier part of your day to naturally tire you out.
  • Create a nighttime routine that relaxes you, such as taking a hot bath or shower before bed.
These are just a few ideas. You will come up with the best practices on your own because you are the authority on your bedtime experience. I hope you have many restful nights ahead of you and that you are easy on yourself on those nights when good sleep is more difficult. Rest assured that our bodies will go to sleep when needed in order to keep functioning. May we be patient and peaceful with ourselves in the meantime. Best wishes for your most replenishing Zzz's..............................