Through my personal and professional journey so far, I have come to understand the nature of my own challenges and in doing so, track their histories through the generations. This is a process that has been accompanied by feelings of anger and grief and more recently a sense of compassion, as I come to appreciate the resourcefulness of those that have come before. When we acknowledge the influence of Intergenerational Trauma we can begin to step outside of our ‘stories’, honouring resourcefulness and moving forward with a sense of self-compassion and determination to change the narrative for future generations.
Neuroception is a founding principle of Polyvagal Theory and key to understanding why our moods can change spontaneously, with no obvious cause. Think of it a little like an internal radar system. Neuroception is an aspect of our nervous system that constantly scans our environment, relationship’s and bodies for cues of ‘safety’ and ‘danger’. This happens unconsciously, we often only become aware of its operation once it’s activated the bodies alarm system; moving us into states of protection, preparing us to fight or flee (anxiety, anger, avoidance) or hide (low mood and depression). Importantly, our internal radar system is only ever working to keep us safe, but unfortunately it doesn’t always get it righ! Our experiences growing up and through our lifetime can ‘programme’ its sensitivities resulting in our Neuroceptive radar system, jumping to conclusions or making assumptions which can lead to problems. Your partner is late home from work and you are overwhelmed by rage, you walk into a room filled with people and you immediately feel on edge, your husband comes close for a cuddle and you pull away. Understanding the operation of Neuroception can really help to interrupt automatic processes as you lean to apply compassion, understanding and discernment to your experience. Using a Polyvagal Informed approach to therapy, I work to support clients in repatterning theses autonomic reactions improving their relationships with themselves and others.
It's easy to make the assumption that anxiety is only isolating and debilitating, limiting us from being able to move towards our goals and achieving ‘success’. In fact, a large proportion of the people I have worked with, have in fact been extremely successful professionally. Whilst their anxiety has propelled them forwards in various aspects of their lives, it has also impacted their ability to truly expand their horizons and appreciate what's around them. Unfortunately, when we sit with prolonged and ongoing anxiety/chronic stress for too long, we are at risk of moving into ‘burnout’ as our bodies move into a state of protection and repair. Through therapy you can learn to harness the energy of anxiety instead of being overwhelmed by it.
Hygge is widely coined as the ‘Danish secret to happiness’ and resonates strongly with the Polyvagal approach to therapy. An element of my work focuses on supporting clients to identify personal cues of ‘safety’ and ‘danger’ in their environment, cues which unconsciously influence their mental state. Following the Hygge philosophy take a look at the video and consider ways that you might like to make subtle yet powerful changes to environment to improve your mood and mental health.
A polyvagal approach to therapy works to strengthen the responsiveness of the vagus nerve, which improves what we call 'vagal tone'. Better 'vagal tone' reduces stress and reactivity whilst also having a number of physical health benefits. If you are the type of person that likes to understand the science behind the theory, you might like to take a look at this BBC Sounds Podcast.
How to break the cycle of anxiety. I really like this video, especially in the context of the COVID situation. For nearly a year now, we have been urged to stay at home, and for good reason. During this time we have experienced a prolonged period of what I call socially enforced avoidance’. So it stands to reason then, that the prospect of reintegrating ourselves back into ‘everyday life’ might trigger a certain amount of anxiety. To an extent at least, our logical thinking brain knows that the risks are low, dependent on our situation of course. Whilst on the other hand our nervous system continues to identify cues of danger, responding by releasing anxiety chemicals into our systems activating patterns of protection, such as avoidance. If this is something you are struggling with then you are not alone. Take a look at this video which explains how you can start to break the anxiety cycle.