The coronavirus pandemic is testing all of us. But it can be especially difficult for those of us who are quarantining alone or who've been cut off from our social outlets almost entirely.
Under these conditions, stress and anxiety can surge, and our sympathetic nervous system, believing we're in real mortal danger, jolts us into a state of fight, flight, or freeze.
Therapist and author Deb Dana shares how Polyvagal Theory can help us better understand what's going on in our brains when we enter these states, and how to respond constructively to anxiety during uncertain times.
Deb Dana, LCSW, is coordinator of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute and developer of the Rhythm of Regulation training series. She’s the coeditor, with Stephen Porges, of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory and author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy.
As Dana explains, providing context for our feelings is the first step. The second is doing organized movement, asking ourselves directly, "What would help right now?"
The goal in both instances, she explains, is getting out of a hyperaroused state.
As Dana writes in her Networker article, "from a polyvagal perspective, a key goal of therapy is to help the client find ways to move out of a dysregulated state...and return to 'ventral vagal,' the biological seat of safety and connectedness."
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