More and more people are seeking mental health support as the stigma that comes with it is slowly overcome. However, with challenges faced by individuals seeking help to get mental health support, more proactive approaches such as wellness models are being utilized so that people can nip the issues in the bud. Duane Bowers leads this webinar to discuss the concept of wellness as a survival mechanism to better understand stress and trauma, and strategies to prevent and combat these.
Duane is a Licensed Professional Counselor, author, and educator in private practice who specializes in working with survivors of trauma, child exploitation, and trafficking. He is responsible for the development of support, clinical supervision, and training of staff and volunteers for a variety of organizations.
Points Duane discussed in this presentation include:
- Challenges in accessing mental health support with difficulty getting appointments and overwhelmed mental health professionals.
- Defining wellness and the different elements that wellness models typically incorporate.
- Fight, flight, freeze and fawn: The basic survival mechanisms we employ in high-stress or traumatic situations.
- What survival mode and survival mechanisms are.
- The two pathways to anxiety that explains how the brain processes information which may then lead to stress response.
- Demonstrating how the body and the brain react to negative information, release cortisol, and put us in survival mode.
- How exposure to details of trauma in jobs in the criminal justice and public safety field can lead to secondary trauma, which shares symptoms with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- A rundown of the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD, and its limitations in terms of the exposure.
- What stress response is, examples of how it may manifest, and what constitutes normal versus stress response that actually requires attention.
- Strategies to combat stress response by:
- Releasing endorphins through exercise, laughter, feeling nurtured, and feeling good about oneself.
- Breathing exercises to counter the amygdala and reduce stress responses.
- Bilateral movements that involve both sides of the body that can help shift the brain from a frozen state.
- Working on the social response area by interacting with friends to reverse the physiological effects of stress.
- Paying attention to the sub-diaphragm area to prevent alternating states of digestive and excretory shutdown, leading to depression and anxiety.
- Efforts made to mitigate stress through the years in the form of stress management, self-care, resiliency, and the most holistic approach – wellness.
- Fostering holistic wellness as a survival mechanism through…
- Nurturing the creative self and developing problem-solving skills.
- Activities to look after the physical self through exercise, sufficient sleep, relaxation, and mindful nutrition.
- Social interaction and its benefits in terms of reassuring self-worth, organizing thoughts, problem-solving, and fostering empathy and emotional understanding.
- Fulfillment, gratitude, personal meaning, and a sense of hope and future to protect the spiritual self.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of existing coping mechanisms and adopting new ones.
- Practicing mindfulness exercises and grounding techniques.
- Maintaining a daily wellness plan to track the implementation of recommended practices for wellness.
- Ways to enhance sense of hope and the future through mindfulness, humor, and establishing goals among others.
Questions from the webinar attendees are about:
- Reframing past experiences to change perceptions or triggers.
- Whether smoking can reduce stress and moving away from oral fixation.
- Foods that can help with de-stressing and reducing cortisol.
- Managing multiple stress responses.
Other Webinars with this Speaker
- March 14, 2023: Intergenerational Trauma and the Role of Family Culture
- May 16, 2023: Wellness as a Survival Mechanism: Changing Skills for Changing Times (this webinar)
- March 5, 2024: Working with Survivors’ Need for Control
- May 14, 2024: The Four Most Common Feelings of Trauma Survivors
Click here to view and register for other upcoming Mental Health/Wellness webinars on the JCH Platform.
Or click here to view and register for other upcoming Victim Assistance webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Daily Wellness Plan
- “I need all of the tools to reduce stress I can get my hands on. Keep them coming!” — Julia
- “Everything that was presented is valuable. It could have been longer. The speaker was great and moved at an appropriate pace. Hope it is offered again….” — Yvonne
- “Great explanations of the how that normally are not addressed. Great information for everyone experiencing anxiety and explaining it. I will be sharing this with not just coworkers but family and friends that need this information.” — Christy
- “Every single thing applied to me. Love how he gave easy suggestions for managing our secondary trauma, versus simply focusing on the definition of the trauma!!! A+” — Alicia
- “Taking care of yourself is important and the tips that were given at the end of the discussion were great. Thank you!” — Patrick
- “I really loved the breakdown about biology and the different aspects of wellness/care.” — Maria
- “Duane Bowers was a very knowledgeable and kind educator. I felt engaged with everything he said.” — Guiel
NACP and D-SAACP Advocates can earn 1 CEU by attending this webinar through the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing. To learn more about NOVA, visit trynova.org.