Wherever you are, cross your arms and tap them alternatively with open palms for 25 times; then take a deep breath. Keep doing it until you feel calmer. You can also tap your legs.
Another way is to put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach and just track your breath.
Press your feet hard on the ground; feel the support of the ground. Count ten different textures (such as wood, glass, plastic, etc.) or count ten different shapes, or ten objects of any one color (anything which activates the thinking process). Notice how you feel less agitated.
Just pay attention to your sensations (fast heartbeat, short breath, tightness/pain in chest, arms, neck, etc.). Choose one sensation and focus your attention on it, with curiosity and no judgment. Release will happen automatically, on its own. Signs of release are spontaneous breath, shaking and trembling, yawning, heat wave, warm sweat, goose bumps, gurgling of the stomach, spontaneous laughter or crying.
Keep working on constricted sensations, focusing on them, and releasing them one at a time, just paying attention and giving them time to discharge, until you recover your calm. Notice how your thoughts become more positive.
To strengthen the sense of calm you have achieved, think of a resource- something that makes you feel stronger and calmer. Pay attention to its soothing effect. Resources are internal (faith, inner strength) and external (friends, family, activities).
Stress is contagious. It affects us and the people around us. It creates a chain reaction that amplifies fear and reactivity. If we use these tools to calm ourselves first, we can then give support to others. Our calm allows us to empower resilience, balance, and reason in the people around us.
These tools have the added benefit of also helping us overcome political divisiveness. They help us focus on people’s humanity and recover our political civility. They identify when we feel hatred and contempt for the other; build bridges to the other side; bring our needs to the other, while understanding and honoring their needs. We can let go of the deep collective trauma that entangles us, which made us focus only on the negative side of “the others,” ignoring any positive qualities and experiences, stigmatizing and demonizing those with different values, instead of just disagreeing with their ideas.
When we are regulated, our emotions don’t control our actions. We are flexible and look for common ground, can address divergent political and social opinions, and cross-cultural differences without labeling the people who hold them. It is easier to avoid disrespect, derision and hate language, and to inspire a sense of safety, openness, and curiosity. We can validate the suffering of all sides, without condoning its negative expression, without differentiating by skin color, social status, religion, or ancestry.
Gina Ross, MFCT,
is Founder/President of the International Trauma-Healing Institute in the US (ITI-US) and its Israeli branch (ITI-Israel). Born in Aleppo, Syria, Gina lived in eight different countries on four continents. A specialist in individual and collective trauma, she authored a series of eight books “Beyond the Trauma Vortex into the Healing Vortex,” targeting 10 social sectors implicated in amplifying or healing trauma. She also created a “Protocol for Conflict Resolution and Successful Communication.” Gina focuses her analytical and advocacy work on the collective trauma behind politics, specifically the Israeli-Jewish/Palestinian–Arab conflict.
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