Tag Archives: stress

Wait, I may have PTSD?!

ptsd

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is becoming a cliché term thrown around in dramatic, charismatic conversation.  Many people question if PTSD is even real.

My grandfather fought in WW II and experienced night terrors and sleep disturbances until the day he died, a common symptom of PTSD.  Medical professionals tend to reserve the PTSD diagnosis for military vets and victims of extreme trauma or violence, which may be appropriate.  But what about the individuals who suffer with no major cause often begging the question, “What the heck is wrong with me?!”

PTSD involves a traumatic disruption in the nervous system resulting in continued release of stress hormones.  Obviously war, extreme trauma, and violence are credible sources to initiate this disruption.  There are four major symptoms of PTSD paraphrased as follows:

  1. Unwanted thoughts:  This may take the form of reliving negative events via memories, day dreaming, nightmares, and flashbacks.  These thoughts intrude without warning or preface.
  2. Fear avoidance:  Simply avoiding people, places, and situations that may remind the individual of the trauma.
  3. Poor memory and negativity:  Forgetfulness, brain fog, constant blame placing, inability to see things in a positive light, flat affect (no emotion).
  4. Hyperactivity and poor reactions:  Aggression, poor value of self or others, inability to sleep and relax, hyper-alert and aware.

Anthony William, The Medical Medium suggests in his blog that there is an “epidemic of hidden PTSD.” It’s hard not to agree with this as a medical professional.  It is not uncommon to see these exact four symptoms in individuals with no preceding traumatic or violent event.  As a physical therapist it is my responsibility to restore normal physical function but with symptoms of hypervigilance, sleep disturbance, and disrupted mood it’s difficult to believe that simple exercise is the full answer.  May it get the ball rolling?  Yes, but the underlying cause is a mystery.  Or is it?  From my point of view, the death of a spouse or child, failure in school, and parental disappointment are a few of the so-called “minor” traumas that may have started a downward tailspin into Stress Hormone City, eliciting one or more of the above symptoms.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms that mimic PTSD is the first step in creating and cultivating a cure.

The national library of medicine (NIH) and biotechnology (NCBI) house a host of articles supporting the usefulness of meditation to combat PTSD in soldiers.  In my opinion, meditation can be an educational point for anyone presenting with one or more symptoms of PTSD.

Besides meditation, Anthony William suggests a dietary approach.  Glucose acts as a protector of the brain and nervous system.  Glucose is readily available for muscular use through the liver, its own glycogen storages, and fat metabolism but not for the brain.  The brain is extremely sensitive and prefers blood glucose from just eaten carb sources favoring fruits and vegetables.  When glucose is not readily available, it will attempt to get what it needs from the liver but this is not an endless supply.  The brain is quite sensitive to just the right amount of glucose.  Utilizing unhealthy, just eaten, glucose laden food (such as grains, soda, and sugar) actually damages brain tissue—kind of like over-watering a plant, the brain becomes over-glucosed compromising neural health.  Hello hangry, brain fog, and memory problems!

Because PTSD is a disorder of the nervous system, providing it with the right sources and amount of glucose may help.  Great brain food can be found in the produce aisle!

There are many facets of wellness, and to fully heal from or manage PTSD one must create a positive relationship with spirituality, occupation, friendships, family, animals, and the environment.  Meditation is one suggestion to aide in transmuting negativity in any of these areas to positivity.

The evidence supports the use of multiple psychotherapeutic approaches as well, and these will also aide in returning the body to a de-stressed state.

*None of this information is to be a substituted for professional healthcare.

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What is destressifying?

“Live From The Sweet Spot” is absolutely my favorite radio show on Hay House Radio (http://www.hayhouseradio.com/#!/host/davidji).  Meditation guru and New York Times bestselling author Davidji is the host. He teaches very real, in the moment solutions for life’s stressors seeking to cultivate awareness and consciousness into the nuances of earthly existence.  His most recent book destressifying is a practical guide that helps incorporate enlightenment into our daily lives even in a never ceasing, constantly communicating, information overloaded culture.   My goal is to summarize a few of the techniques, and encourage you to GET THE BOOK–it may change your life!

Stress can be good, it’s what drives earth’s creations.  Stress is also our best teacher, leading us to our greatest accomplishments and higher selves.  Stress’s evils are nown all too well in our world today.  The ability to change the perception of stress from a negative event into a nurturing event is key to transforming your life.  The world is not out to get you, but it is out to guide you to your dharma (life purpose), and to cultivate our ever existing soul.  Sometimes humans need the brick over the head, or a life-halting moment to change gears, to repent, and to turn around!

Pattern Interrupts:  It is vital to pump the breaks as we begin to lose control and to prevent a loss of control.  Stress starts affecting our body by elevating the heart rate, causing us to perspire, and shifting hormone levels to adequately fuel the extremities to bounce into action.  Subsequently our brain goes into autopilot and we often react in a way that is regretful or physically harmful to ourselves.  A brief pattern interrupt can physiologically restore the body to a leveled sense of being so that rational, mindful decisions and reactions can be birthed.  The second you become aware of your body’s reaction to stress, Davidji suggests doing the following:

STOP, detach from the situation both physically and emotionally so that you can witness what is going on.  Pretend to be a fly on the wall, then react in a way that reflects the best version of yourself.

The book details examples that clarify, but for me the word “STOP” is the most important.  In the stressful moment, throw up an emotional, nonverbal stop sign.  If anyone else is involved in the situation, they do not have to be aware of what you are doing.  Stop because your reflexive reaction is not the imprint you want to leave behind.  Once the reflexive pattern has been interrupted, there is space to turn to the direction you wish to go.

PT application:  What is the biggest pattern interrupt of all time?  An injury, a traumatic event, a hospitalization–talk about a screeching halt!  As I mention in my blog Why Me Why Now at https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/01/19/why-me-and-why-now/, these events are ultimately wake up calls.  We ignore what our body is telling us on a daily basis continuing to grind through to accomplish something that in the end.  Do we even know what that something is?  By initiating the practice of pattern interrupts, I think we may be able to avoid and shift life’s screeching halts.

16 Seconds to Clarity:  If you listen to Hay House Radio Davidji offers a “meditation minute” between programs, and one of the techniques he uses is 16 seconds.  The best thing about 16 seconds is…it’s short.  If you are new to meditation or feel too busy for mediation, this is the perfect practice.  In our work-life culture, stress has become an accepted, mundane practice.  16 seconds offers a pattern interrupt to the stress-infused day.  It’s so easy–perform 16 seconds three times a day for two weeks, then observe as you effortlessly incorporate it out of habit in the days that follow.  The full version can be found on page 58 of destressifying.  Here is a summary:

Inhale deeply through the nostrils for 4 seconds, hold that breath in 4 seconds and witness it, exhale slowly 4 seconds (you may exhale through the nostrils or sigh through the mouth), hold the breath out 4 seconds and witness it dissipating into the universe.  If you have time quietly observe your normal breathing pattern in the following few seconds.

PT application:  16 seconds helps to detach your ego from the current situation.  In my practice many people have a brain block.  Their brain is convincing their body to be, act, and move in a certain way.  16 seconds allows the person to detach for a few seconds, clarify the situation, and then harmonize with the highest version of themselves.  An approach utilizing the higher self may impart utilizing a different spin or a different path to wellness as oppose to the beaten path, which translates to a new outcome for the situation.

The 5 Realms:  Consider five aspects of our existence according to our needs as identified by physical, material, spiritual, emotional, and relational needs.  Once you identify your blockages within each realm or within a particular realm, healing can begin.  We are our own ultimate healer and teacher.  Just by asking God reveals answers to us.  We just have to be open and receptive to that answer.  The 5 realms gives the human brain an objective playing ground.  More details can be found in Chapter 7!

PT application:  You can see that one of the five realms is physical.  My career has been birthed out of needs identified in the physical realm but that’s only 1/5th of the puzzle!  What I’ve come to realize is that a focus and consideration of the other four realms is essential.  When is comes to treating someone who is homeless, an abuser or abusee, an atheist, or someone without family or friends, a focus in the physical realm rewards little amount of healing.  By tapping into the deficits in the other realms, I can better tailor my treatment and education to guide my clients into healing the blockages present elsewhere.

The Importance of Relationships:  So many of us hold on so dearly to relationships that are tearing us to shreds.  It’s the one realm that requires the active participation of another individual.  Over and over I’ve identified and encountered people with physical burden due to these toxic relationships.  Yes, it may be your spouse, sibling, or dearest friend–that doesn’t make the relationship any less toxic.  A relational toxicity doesn’t mean that either person involved in the relationship is a horrible person, it simply denotes that the energy surrounding the relationship is not nurturing at this time to either of you.  Davidji offers four techniques to remedy a toxic relationship (Pg 145):  1)  Birth it–create a new relationship, start over brand new.  2)  Repair it–release the past and step into the future, (if this fails then) 3)  Shift it–create or dismiss boundaries to re-define the relationship (and if all else fails) 4)  End it–release the relationship for the time being.  When ending or shifting a relationship I always say that this doesn’t have to be forever, but for now.

Please visit Davidji’s website at http://www.davidji.com for more information

You can buy destressifying on Amazon.com