8 TIPS FOR COPING WITH QUARANTINE AS A SURVIVOR OF DIGITAL VIOLENCE
1 Listen to Your Body, Not Your Device
When we have gone through trauma our bodies can become dysregulated. The constant pinging of alerts from your boss, news source, families or friends and social media isn’t just annoying and anxiety provoking – it sets our bodies into a state of hyperarousal. In trauma, our dysregulated bodies & brains will try to co-regulate to what is around us and the sounds of alerts from our devices can signal threats of violence to our central nervous system. Try to “drop into” what your body is sensing, feeling, experiencing and picking up on during this time. When technology has been the source of our trauma, it is impossible to not feel like it is in control of our lives. Especially now. Learn what your body is saying to you and how you can regulate it without technology.
2 Get Physical
These constant alerts can provoke us into hyperactivation. When our brains become hyper aroused (not sexually) we may start to experience racing, ruminating and intrusive thoughts, mood alterations, hypervigilance, and emotional numbing or avoidance. We could experience “flooding” which is when multiple emotions emerge simultaneously and become too intense to be contained, therefore flooding our brain waves. When we are in these triggered states our bodies and brains need to discharge those neurobiological chemicals / toxins. Think – what goes up must come down. When our brains are up – we can help to regulate by bringing our bodies down. Do something to help move these chemicals through and “discharge them”. Do a few jumping jacks. Hum loudly so you can feel the vibration in your mouth and on your throat. Make a fist with your left hand and use your right hand to tap the pinky edge repeatedly.
3 Sleep Alone
Try as much as possible to remove yourself from devices – phones, computers, ipads, etc. When our central nervous system has been through trauma and becomes dysregulated it will try to “sync up” and co – regulate to what is energetically close. This includes partners, family members, children, and yes – technology! Try to sleep with your phones away from you. When not using your computer or device, put it in another area of your room or another place in your home so you cannot see it, hear it or feel it. Give yourself, and your phone, space.
4 Stimulate your Senses
We are all very ungrounded right now and the world we live in is only exacerbating this sense of panic. Stimulating your senses can help to ground your body back into yourself because it changes the way your brain is receiving information. Listen to loud music. Taste something sweet or spicy or savory and hold it on your tongue. Light a candle or incense. Dose your hands in essential oil and breathe in. Pet a furry friend or rub your hands on a textured rug or blanket. Take an extra hot shower or chill out with a cold one. Find something to look at that brings you happiness. This is something you can have control over when everything around us is chaotic and scary.
Laugher cuts through fear. It calms the hypervigilance in our right brain and helps to stop sending signals of danger. There is nothing funny about the tragedy, destruction and continued death from Covid – 19. However we need to try to find something to laugh about in these times. Not only will it give us an instant of happiness – it will help change the fear wiring in our brains.
6 Connect with Others Who Get It
There is an over-emphasis on how technology is being used to connect us with people. When technology has been used to hurt us, we can’t just switch to loving it. We cannot pop-psychology or meme ourselves into pretending that facetiming with our family isn’t still scary because we aren’t sure if someone has taken remote control of our laptop camera. We are all fighting this pandemic together – but some of us have been fighting for our lives for years before Covid – 19 arrived. Connect with your community who understand that the culture of fear already lived inside of us before the world as a whole was facing it.
7 Balance your Expectations
We are being asked to show up and exist in different ways right now in the world. This is scary for us if the online world has been a place of trauma and our physical world is a place of pandemic. Indulge yourself in what feels good without judgement. Everything else feels bad right now and we may keep comparing our situations to others who are going through worse. Be kind to yourself and try not to blame and hurt yourself during this time.
We are all going to crave things that comfort us, but only you know what comfort feels like. Balance that feeling without hurting yourself in the process. If alcohol is a trigger and you understand that your use of it is harmful – tell people to stop inviting you to “quarantine happy hours”. We might be seduced into using substances during this time. You know your own relationship with them. Be mindful when you use or do anything that will remove you from your own emotions. Take this time to know you are only being asked one thing – to take care of yourself. I suggest the only expectation to have for yourself is to love yourself through it all.
8 Get Camera Consent
Being on video chats and virtual meetings are not just exhausting for survivors like us, they are triggering AF! We are being forced to move our lives to the digital realm. The constant paranoia of wondering if someone is taking our picture on that work meeting or filming us while we are trying to do self-care on zoom is toxic. It is hard enough to care for ourselves without the constant fear our cameras cause. Just because our professional and personal lives have moved online does not mean we have to be coerced into having our image ‘out there’.
I wouldn’t invite strangers into my living room so why am I being asked to now during a pandemic?! We do not have to ‘enable camera access’ to participate in connecting with others and caring for ourselves. For many of us, it feels unsafe to do since we have had our privacy violated – violently.
Practice AFFIRMATIVE CAMERA CONSENT. If you feel comfortable with being on video then by all means do it. Know that you have a choice right now and feel free to exercise that choice, with your employer and all the ways the world is asking you to connect. Ask others if they feel comfortable with being on video so we don’t feel like we have to always bring it up. Also – people like to take pictures of virtual meetings happening and post them on social media. Ask the people on your video calls for their consent before. Even if we are on video with you, do not assume we are giving you consent to take our picture or record us. If I didn’t tell you it’s ok – do not assume it is.
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