When violence strikes close to home, the instinct to retreat and isolate can be overpowering. Fear and trauma can make us want to withdraw from the world and make us want to build walls around our hearts and minds, shielding ourselves from the harsh realities of an unpredictable world.
The consequence of living in fear and
deciding to isolate is horrific for our brains.
I'm writing this today because within the past 6 weeks our family in Tennessee, Texas and California have experienced the reality of being VERY VERY close to extreme acts of violence or to the perpetrators. Fortunately none of them were present at the various crime scenes, but all of them have been directly or indirectly affected. Anger, grieving and questioning are part of the immediate human response. As people process through that response, they makes choices about how to deal with what happened.
When we live in fear and isolate, it hurts us in so many ways. Here's how it affects the 4 Circles of Life:
- Psychologically – Our thinking becomes dark and life is stripped of its joys when we let our minds be hijacked by fear. Our brains suffer and soon will experience some damage.
- Socially – It undermines our relationships because our focus is on survival, not connection.1
- Spiritually – Our sense of purpose and meaning is lost. Our light stops shining.2
- Biologically – Disease is often born out of a distraught mind.3
Being affected by a traumatic event is normal and can be healthy whether we are a direct victim or when an event strikes close to home. Only callous, hardened hearts feel nothing when bad things happen to people near them. How we work through our emotions and process the pain and sorrow is what counts when it comes to maintaining mental health. Allowing ample, but not too much time, for grieving is necessary.
Knowing that we will never be the same after a tragic event is helpful, but the choice to live like a victim or grow and become stronger is ours, and ours alone.
Did you know that experiencing trauma can actually
stimulate positive changes in the brain?
Typically when we talk about tragic events we think about the aftermath being PTSD, an acronym most everyone knows - Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. But not everyone experiences PTSD.
Living in the wake of trauma can foster adaptive coping strategies, enhance thinking skills, and can strengthen our ability to be resilient. In addition, some individuals may develop a greater sense of empathy and compassion, deepening their connections with others. In the world of psychology, this is called, Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).4
A very healthy person, especially in the spiritual and emotional circles, is much more likely to experience PTG. However, it IS possible for an unhealthy person to experience PTG, but its not normally the case.
ProActive Steps For Mental Health To Help Us Thrive After Trauma
- Joy and Gratitude: Neuroscience has revealed that cultivating gratitude rewires our brain, boosting the production of dopamine and serotonin—the "feel-good" neurotransmitters. By fostering a grateful mindset, we begin to experience a more positive outlook on life.5
On a personal note - I think more people would take the time to write in a gratitude journal if they realized that it can actually change your brain.
- Faith and Trust: Studies show that by relinquishing fear and embracing faith, we unlock the potential for improved cognitive functioning and emotional well-being.
On a personal note - Faith is the cornerstone of the my life. It involves placing my trust in God's love and providence. Even so, I, like most people, have at times, been angry at God because bad things have happened to me and to those I love. I don't understand all the suffering. But my faith, that God is love and love always wins, gives me hope. I believe the world is a spiritual battle field and we all know that there is suffering and there are casualties in a battle.
- Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty: Fear often arises from the unknown - the unpredictable nature of life that lies beyond our control. Scientific research suggests that cultivating peace and tranquility allows us to face uncertainty with less anxiety. It reduces the production of stress hormones, promotes neural connectivity, and enhances overall mental clarity.
On a personal note - I realize that everyone prefers safety and security - me too. But faith that God is loving and has a sovereign plan gives me His peace that passes understanding even when I don't know what's coming next or when I didn't know how I was going to survive.
- Strength in Adversity: Life is full of challenges, trials, and setbacks. Fear often paralyzes us, making it difficult to overcome obstacles. Choosing to persevere through trials rather than giving up strengthens our mental health and makes us more resilient.
On a personal note - Without faith that 'all things work together for good for those who love the Lord', I do not believe I could have endured some of the trials of my life. Through faith, I found solace in God's promises, knowing that He would help me get through the dark valleys of life. Numerous studies have demonstrated that resilience, or PTG —the choice to grow through adversity, is closely linked to excellent brain health.
- Community & Support: The power of community and social connection is well known for improving brain health. In a healthy group, connections grow and support is felt by sharing each other's joys, sorrows and burdens.
On a personal note - Dave and I are part of a vibrant and supportive community. Tapping into the strength and encouragement provided by a small group with our values is helpful when we're feeling down and especially helpful when crisis strikes.
Community support is a fantastic way to help you grow in every circle of life.
To be prepared to withstand whatever comes your way, I encourage you to make finding a community of people with your same values, your first priority. It may take a while to find the group you want to stick with, but just remember, when you give people as much grace as you'd like to be given, you'll find one a lot quicker!
People often don't have community support because of the anxiety they feel when they think about looking for that group. Remembering that there is no pressure to find a perfect community (they don't exist!) can help relieve a bit of the anxiety. All groups and relationships are made up of flawed people. But, loving flawed people is better than living in isolation! And let's face it - we are all flawed people!
At one time or another, almost everyone needs extra support to make it through tough times. The right supplements can help. I use a supplement because I tend to have low dopamine. Others in my family are low on serotonin. If you suspect you are in need of some extra support and don't want to take drugs, an all natural supplement may be you new best friend! This is a great one:
A 25% discount is available for my family and loyal readers.
Ordering straight from the Fullscript Dispensary gives you the assurance that you are getting what you pay for! Plus the prices are usually better than Amazon or vitamin shops.
To order, simply create an account at Fullscript Dispensary and make your purchase. Note: it will refer to you as my "patient", but, because my account is limited to supplements, (not prescriptions medications) there is no appointment required.
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Young Living's Valor essential oil blend is also a great thing for calming social anxiety. Plus it smells delightful! - which is an added bonus when meeting new people!
While I hope and pray that violence never hits close to your home, I believe it is more important now than ever to be as healthy as we can! I encourage you to find your community and take the supplements you need to be your best self.
I, Suzette, am here to help you - just reach out.
This link will give you 25% OFF hundreds of bands of pharmaceutical grade supplements.
To place a Young Living order for the first time, please use my link and use the chat feature if needed for your initial order. Be sure to give them my number 12055676 and remember to save your password and PIN. Thanks!
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