January 13th, 2017

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Coping with Stressful Situations

A friend is going through a rough patch, so I put together some resources for what to do when your life blows up in your face.  You can also use these for supporting someone else.

Here are the most basic steps of self-care in the form of question prompts.

Know how to deliver Emotional First Aid for yourself and for others.  Make an EFA kit stocked with things you find soothing. You can even make a portable, pocket-sized EFA kit that fits into an Altoids tin.

Soothe yourself with stress relief activities for the 5 senses.

Explore the categories of coping skills with their pros and cons.  Here is a list of 99 coping skills.

Grounding techniques can relieve anxiety and other unpleasant emotions.

Try some relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

Many herbs can ease anxiety and promote calm.  Consider aromatherapy or dreampillows if you're not into herbal tea. Note: if you have issues with intrusive memories or a fresh trauma, do NOT use rosemary, which enhances memory.  Save that to study for tests or address lost/fading memories.

Stressful experiences often interfere with sleep.  Take extra care with your sleep.

Acute stress reaction is a normal response to an abnormal event.  Most people will freak out or freeze up for a few days, then gradually recover.  Treatment typically consists of common sense comforts.  The most important point is to listen if someone wants to talk about what happened, but don't pressure  them to do so.

Preventing PTSD is important, but caregivers are just beginning to identify things that help.  First, understand that PTSD is fundamentally a sorting error: the brain can't file traumatic memories properly, so they replay over and over again.  Playing a stacking-and-sorting game such as Tetris can activate the brain's sorting function.  Making a care diary, timeline, or trauma scrapbook can help place memories in context as part of the life story.

Bad stuff happens to everyone sometimes.  You can cope with it.  You can help other people cope with it.  Learn the skills to be a hero.  The world needs more of those.
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Author Update

Some stuff that's been going on here:

* I've been under the weather for several days.  I'm back to semi-functional but not yet back to spending all day online.  Consequently I am even more behind on the projects that were already running behind.  I will catch up when I can.

* Our regular phones are out of service due to the provider changing technology without telling us.  Gee thanks assholes.  So now we need new phones, which we can't get for several days. 

* It pays to know supervillains.  While I was mentally bitching over this, Shiv chimed in, "So get a burner phone."  I am SO not a phone person, this would never have occurred to me, and my partner Doug says he wouldn't have thought of it either.  We did manage to acquire and activate one, so we have an emergency phone.  Yay.

* Reason we needed an emergency phone is that the weather forecast calls for freezing rain.  This often, though not always, knocks out the power and we need to be able to call in the outage if that happens.  We have food, bottled water, a woodstove, wood to put in it, etc. and are generally well prepared for the weather.
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Poem: "A Glitch in the System"

This poem came out of the January 3, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] nsfwords. It also fills the "psychological turmoil" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by daisiesrockalot. It belongs to The Blueshift Troupers project.

Warning: This poem contains ethical conundra and situations of (mutually) questionable consent in the context of intragalactic travel.

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