What is hyper and hypo arousal?
In case you missed the prior window of tolerance blog post here is a quick recap on what hyperarousal and hypoarousal are:
Hyperarousal is when your sympathetic nervous system kicks into overdrive and has too much arousal. Your sympathetic nervous system is made up of your fight, flight, or freeze response.
When you have a history of trauma or if you are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, you may recognize this as one of the main symptoms of PTSD.
Working with those who have experienced trauma, I’ve learned many are aware of the hyperarousal state, but not as aware of what hypoarousal is. Hypoarousal is also known as the shutdown response. It is when you do not have enough arousal because your parasympathetic system is overloaded.
You can be triggered into hypoarousal by thoughts, feelings, and memories reminding you of past traumatic experiences, but also by present day triggers that may trigger past traumatic experiences.
What are ways to cope with hypoarousal & hyperarousal?
- Drinking from a straw
- Drink warm tea
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Biolateral music
- Slow walk
- Mindfulness of your posture: lengthen your spine & deep breathing.
- Hold an ice cube
- Grounding: activate your senses!
- Name every detail for one object you can find
- Paced breathing
- Stand up if your sitting
- Jumping jacks, walking, running, dancing
- stand on one foot
- lay on the floor and rock your knees/legs from left to right.
- Dual awareness statements: “I am in (place). It is (date). And I am safe.” Example: I am in my house, the doors are locked, it is 8/6/22 and I am safe.”
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