With tragedy all around, a few suggestions for those more sensitive to stress

From Linda M. Rio, Marriage & Family Therapist:  Hurricanes of biblical proportion, a mass shooting to defy all imagination, not to mention fires out West and the innumerable daily, “normal” deaths and destruction all amount to an overwhelming amount of pain. It is hard to talk about such things, about such suffering. Any one of these traumatic events is hard to comprehend, so many in such a short time period can be too much for anyone, but potentially even more impactful for some pituitary patients.

After the 1994 Southern California Northridge earthquake I was interviewed by an Los Angeles radio show about how parents could help their children deal with such a natural disaster. Many of the things I suggested back then apply today even for adults, and especially for those whose bodies are especially sensitive to hormones responsible for the body’s stress response system.  Cortisol is produced by the pituitary and adrenal glands and responsible for a healthy and necessary alarm system in the body. Without cortisol we could not survive but things can go wrong with this system making some especially sensitive to emotional and/or physical stress.

Any of us watching television, hearing radio, and seeing social media accounts of recent tragedies are affected and need to be aware of the cumulative effects of being bombarded by so much negatives. Those who are ‘cortisol sensitive’ (not a medical term but my own description) must be especially aware of how their bodies may respond to such out-of-the ordinary levels of stress.

Anyone who knows they are highly sensitive to stress need to take even more measures toward physical and psychological self-care.

Here are a few suggestions for us all, but especially for those with endocrine disorders sensitive to stress.

Turn it off:  It is not only OK but necessary to know that staying glued to the television and/or devise can be hazardous. Taking breaks from the media is an important way to give the mind and body a break and to balance itself. Watch and stay informed as much as necessary but know that deciding it is just too much is really important too.

Take action:   The body’s stress response system is intended to provide the body an immediate amount of energy to respond to imminent, life-threatening situation. This is a wonderful and necessary design by Mother Nature. It is designed to have us ACT, DO, GET OUT OF DANGER. Often folks following an emergency will report that they “just ran”, “didn’t think but just reacted”. This is because in an emergency it is not important to take time to calculate, instead just get out of the way and be safe. A more serious reaction to a traumatic event is to “freeze” emotionally and physically and therefore does not allow escape as an option. So, whenever we are exposed to trauma, either in real life or by choice by watching stressful events on TV, it is important to give the body a physical way to expel the energy.

Remaining seated in a chair for hours only holds all that energy inside the body since the body does not know the difference between watched and experienced emergencies. So, be sure to increase physical exercise by walking, going to the gym, clean the house, dig in the garden etc. Studies have shown that getting outside into nature to exercise has even more benefits for stress reduction. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense, just moving the body has psychological/emotional benefits in addition to those positive to the body. When dealing with stress it isn’t about trying to lose weight but giving the energy in the body a place to be expelled.

Talk it out: Those things we don’t talk about only remain inside as ongoing stress. So, it is important to find someone to talk with, complain, express frustrations. If there is no one who can listen and discuss it can also be helpful to write it out in a diary or journal as a way of “talking” to oneself. For those who are artistically talented emotions can also be expressed through art, music, dance.

Remember you have a choice:  Above all it is important to remember to make choices for yourself that help and not hurt the body and mind. The mere act of recognizing choices in life prevent a victim response and allow empowerment and strength.

Let us all acknowledge the terrible things that have happened, grieve, then find ways to heal personally, with our families, and as a collective community.


Product Details

Linda M. Rio, M.A., LMFT is a PWN contributor and author.  Her latest book “The Hormone Factor in Mental Health” is available through Amazon.com and other major booksellers http://www.amazon.com/Hormone-Factor-Mental-Health-Mind-body/dp/1849059292/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439421972&sr=1-1&keywords=the+hormone+Factor+in+Mental+Health  

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