Central Hall Commons PTSD Conversations Features Domestic Violence and Resilience Topics

By Beth Ranagan

The Central Hall Commons in collaboration with community partner organizations will present “Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence with PTSD:  A Coordinated Community Response,” with speaker Angie Alfonso and “Strengthening Resilience and Connection Together through Conversations,” featuring Kini-Ana Tinkham.  These two programs are the second in CHC’s PTSD Conversations: Our Communities Response virtual presentations and will appear Wednesday, July 22 at 1 p.m. on Facebook Live Events at www.facebook.com/CentralHallCommons.org and on Zoom at www.CentralHallCommons.org for zoom link access before the event.

Angie Alfonso, Rural Outreach Team Leader at Partners for Peace, will share some experiences in working with people with PTSD and the services that her organization provides to the communities of Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties.  Angie is a former Prevention Educator, and she recognizes the importance of building and nurturing relationships to create a coordinated community response.

Kini-Ana Tinkham, BA, RN, is the Executive Director for the Maine Resilience Building Network.  She works to improve the health and well-being of all family members and communities by advancing the mission of MRBN through education in a variety of settings throughout the state.  Her career expands across maternal and child health in the home, school, family planning, clinical healthcare, and public health.  She will speak about resiliency techniques.

Trauma that lives in the body needs to be discharged so that we can live healthy and happy lives.  We can strengthen our resilience to help bring the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems into alignment during, immediately following, and long after traumatic events.

There are several research-supported techniques that can help anyone cultivate resilience.  These techniques can help discharge the trauma within as well.  The American Psychological Association has reported that having supportive relationships with family and friends is the primary factor for resilience.  Talking through your emotional and physical responses with caring and loving people fosters perspective.  Maintain and stay connected to your friends and family always and especially during times of stress and adversity to bolster resilience.  Find targeted support groups for connection, too.    

Using breath to release stress has been found to create balance within the body as well.  Use the rhythmic movement of inhalation and exhalation, feeling breath through the nostrils, throat, and in the rise and fall of your belly to develop conscious awareness.  A deep sigh is a good way to release tension for a realistic view of a situation.  Resilient people use breath techniques often.

Daily meditation and prayer calm us because they reach the deeper cortex of the brain, as found from MRI studies at Stanford University.  Practicing mindfulness throughout the day, using full attention to daily tasks, can curb disturbing and ruminating thoughts surrounding a disturbing event.  Coupled with conscious gratitude for the good in life, mindfulness can lead to more positive thoughts and life purpose for greater resilience.

Movement, particularly rhythmic and repetitive movement, develops resilience and discharges trauma.  For those with PTSD from domestic violence, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is especially useful.  Dancing, drumming, tai chi, and walking are also good ways to regulate the autonomic nervous system.

Touch gives us a sense of safety and trust.  Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is released to counteract the stress hormone cortisol.  If you live alone, use the butterfly hug (hands touching opposite shoulders) to hug yourself or put your hand on your heart while gently breathing to self-soothe.  Hug and stroke pets to achieve calming effects. The resulting sense of safety builds resilience.

Stephen Porges, PhD, founder of the Polyvagal Theory, reminds us to use a smiling facial expression when connecting with others as well as using a pleasantly intoned voice and good eye contact to help ourselves and others feel safety, thereby building resilience for both communication partners.

For more information on the upcoming program described at the beginning of this article, call Jody at 207-717-6782.

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