Are you feeling “Weltschmerz”?

Weltschmerz
Here are some effective strategies that help to find more ease in these times of meta-crisis.

You might have heard about a “flooded nervous system” or “flight, fight, freeze or fawn” response. From an evolutionary point of view, these terms describe the automatic process and “involuntary reflex” meant to keep us alive in simpler times thousands of years ago, when our brain detected “real” danger: a nearby predator, an approaching storm, a rivalling tribe attacking…

What’s important to know is that our brains have not had the chance to evolve quickly enough to adjust to the monumental development in human life experience. Our brain can find it difficult to distinguish between “real” threat and “imagined” or perceived danger.

When we look at the history of humanity, it becomes obvious very quickly, that it would have been an impossibility for our brains to keep up the pace of the drastic changes in human society, particularly over the past 200 years.

In a world full of distraction, speed, busyness, noise and global turmoil, it’s no wonder that our mental health is suffering. Our brain and nervous system barely get a break between stimuli and it is important to learn skills that will support us in finding more balance and wellbeing within these life circumstances.

We are all different and our responses to stress or threats can vary greatly from person to person. Some of us have an added layer of trauma, some are neurodivergent, others might live through difficult life circumstances. 

Here are some of the most common symptoms when we become flooded or enter “Flight, fight, freeze or fawn” mode:

Cognitive/emotional:
  • Overwhelm of thoughts/inability to “think straight”
  • Incoherent language/word-finding problems
  • Tendency towards excessive worrying and catastrophising 
  • Raising our voice, aggression, bad mood
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Apathy/shutdown
  • Inappropriate social behaviours/reactions
  • Etc.
Physical:
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling hot/cold
  • Clammy hands
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Headache
  • Shivering/shaking/trembling
  • Impaired vision
  • Tingling sensations in hands/shoulders/arms/legs/feet/face
  • Numbness
  • Dissociation
  • Etc.

We are currently experiencing a meta-crisis: a culmination of various interconnected and mutually reinforcing crises including global conflict, the climate crisis, societal disturbances and a general overexposure to information and stimuli. 

As a consequence, many of us are constantly on high alert. Our cortisol and adrenaline levels are raised, our mind and body believe we are facing imminent danger for extended periods of time. This has a significant effect on our overall functioning and mental well-being.

It is so important that we learn skills and strategies which help us find more ease and wellbeing despite the challenges we are facing. Here are some suggestions, I will only touch on each briefly, providing a link for further reading:

Embodied Practices:

Stress and overwhelm often causes us to disconnect from our bodies. We live in our heads much of the time not being able to get a break from our ruminating thoughts. Embodied practices such as yoga, mindful movement, tapping, massage, Thai Chi, Quigong etc. help us to move into the sensations in our body, arriving in the here and now rather than in the past or future.

Consciously taking in the Good

Every day we are bombarded with negative and frightening news. In addition, we have are wired to have a negativity bias which means it’s much easier to cling to the “bad stuff” than seeing the blessings all around us. The good news is that there is also beauty and joy in every moment. We often miss all the little things, the smile of a stranger, the blossom on our apple tree, a beautiful song on the radio. Consciously making time to “take in the good” and allow joy is a powerful practice to rewire our brains and create some balance.

Nature Connection

Nature Connection is not optional for humans. Even though many of us have lost that deep relationship with the earth, it’s still imprinted in our DNA. Making time to re-connect consciously has so many benefits from strengthened immune system, improved mental health, a feeling of belonging, reconnecting with childhood memories, increased self-awareness, experiences of awe and wonder and so much more.

Grounding/Earthing

We often feel disconnected, mentally, emotionally and physically. Grounding or Earthing are practices that reconnect us on all levels. We can do this by walking barefoot on the earth, swimming in natural waters, gardening and feeling our hands in the soil or hugging a tree. Read more here.

Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness helps us to see things as they really are. Bringing full awareness to our body, breath, thoughts, emotions and environment helps us to put things into perspective.

Breathwork

Breathwork is a powerful approach that can instantly hack our nervous system and support our mental and physical wellbeing. 

Community

When we feel alone, our anxiety and fears become amplified. Being in community supports us on so many levels.

Creativity

Sometimes we need other pathways than words to express ourselves. Getting immersed in creative projects can provide us with a “valve” to channel our emotions in a more healthy and directed manner. Read more here.

Self-Compassion

We can be so hard on ourselves, especially when we are stressed. The practice of self-compassion can help us to bring more acceptance, care and kindness to ourselves.

Loving-Kindness

A direct effect of stress and fear is the constriction of our heart. It’s possible to even feel this on a physical level such as tightness, pressure and aching. Heart-opening practices such as loving-kindness help us to gently open up and get in touch with our vulnerability and desire to connect in a loving way.

If you would like to learn more about bringing more ease, resilience and wellbeing to our lives despite modern day challenges, why not join our course “Climate Hope through Mindful Nature Connection“.

If you are a health or education professional check out our fully certified Ecotherapy Training “Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy” where you will learn to respond skilfully to symptoms of eco anxiety and a general disconnect from Nature.

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