This episode comes in the wake of another horrific school shooting and many of the people I’ve encountered over the past week are struggling because of it. So, I’m compelled to use this time to address the concept of fear brought on by secondary trauma and how we can get stuck trying to process that fear.
Through biologic evolution, our bodies have been hardwired with the classic fear responses: fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. Often we respond with fear even when the danger or trauma does not pose an immediate physical threat to us. Typically, these reactions are involuntary. Our bodies make the decision to respond in a particular way regardless of whether the danger is real or perceived, primary or secondary.
For many of us, our fear response appears not only because of a specific event or string of events, but also because the news outlets recount stories and images on seemingly endless repeat. We imagine the pain and heartache of the devastated families and consider the vulnerability of our own children. We are affected by the responses of our family, friends, and coworkers as well. Our social media feeds carry the strong emotions from the people we follow, and their reactions are served up right alongside the algorithms that are designed to activate us and keep us engaged as long as possible.
When our bodies carry the weight of these chronic stressors it’s easy to get stuck in our corrosive emotions. But there are steps we can take to reduce our involuntary fear response. Here are just a few that I discuss in this episode:
Exercise, go to the park, snuggle a pet, engage in simple touch Read, rather than watch, the news Limit the amount of time you spend consuming social media Most importantly, do what is best for you. If listening to this episode is not what you need right now, that’s okay. Come back next week. If you choose to listen, I hope it brings you some relief. Just know that you are not alone in your response to overwhelming tragedy.
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