Self-regulation & Struggling to be okay

::Heads up: Below is a discussion of gun violence, Christianity, and transgender people. Please take care of yourself and your nervous system FIRST, before proceeding to read anything here. You and your nervous system are far more important than anything I have to say or perceive. ::

**Another note: I have a short and simple exercise at the end of this post to help support your nervous system. Feel free to use if you wish, please don’t if it in any way feels uncomfortable or unpleasant.

***This blog post or any others written here is not intended to be or be a substitution for therapy or other professional support you may require. In case of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1 if in the US, or your local emergency services wherever you may be.

I dropped my kids off today, both in elementary school, and came home to see the headline of another school shooting, at an elementary school.

School shootings have unfortunately become so routine, that I actually have a ritual around taking care of myself before diving into the media coverage around said shootings. And having young kids myself, I used to absolutely panic every time I saw anything in the news about a mass shooting. I will continue to take care of myself today, and I ask that you please do the same.

In reading a little bit more, I recognized the word “Covenant” in the school name, and growing up evangelical Christian, that word is akin to Christianity in every way I have known. Then I read that the police killed the suspect and reported that the individual was trans, and a former student at the school.


Pair that with all the anti-trans people (yes, let’s please remind ourselves we are speaking about human beings) bills that are intentionally being crafted currently, and so many questions come into my mind.

When will we support humans instead of drive them to violence?

When will we value human life over our “right” to weapons?

When will we spend time and energy into prevention and healing, rather than putting out new fires?

You of course, may hold a different opinion. I cannot help but see this as a tragedy of multiple proportions, and the patterns are abundantly clear.

In social work, we are taught to view systems from multiple focuses: micro (up close, 1:1), mezzo (middle ground), and macro (bigger systems at play). I have never seen a more perfect demonstration of loss on all three levels.

As a parent, I grieve deeply for the parents and caregivers of young ones. Their lives are so dependent on adults being able to protect them, while also giving them space to learn how to live the best way they know how.

As a human and clinician of mental health, I grieve deeply for any individual that might have felt so hopeless or so angered, or some other deep emotion that was not metabolized through the body, but rather stuck, that they would feel the need to act out in violence.

As a member of different communities myself, I can only imagine the fear, sadness, anger, exhaustion that comes with being impacted so close to home. You don’t just “carry on” with life following an event like this.

As an individual that operates within several systems, I feel only frustration with how politics continue to run swiftly toward the oppression of all people with “differences.” Truly, the reach of legislation in the United States has become so obsessed with cornering, disempowering, and destroying all people that are not whitecismaleheterocollegegradupwardlymobileChristian it makes me sick to my stomach. At some point, people are going to break. At some point, we have to say enough.

Everyone has their own breaking points, and where that threshold lies is dependent on many things, one of them being their own nervous system.

You see, our nervous system is in many ways responsible for us responding to stress and crisis, and for telling the body it is ok to rest.

Collectively, we have experienced too much stress response and crisis with the pandemic. That is only fact, it doesn’t matter if you even believe in COVID-19 or not. The fact is, your nervous system perceived society moving about in a drastically different way, and therefore it received such input. There are very few exceptions.

This is literally ONE EVENT that was too much for our nervous system (if the stress was not metabolized through the body fully). Consider other factors of stress:

-Economic environment
-Walking around in a body with an identity that is seen and marginalized
-Walking around in a body with an identity that is NOT seen and still marginalized
-Not having natural supports (friends, family, community)
-Chronic illness
-Mental illness
-Toxic relationships with partners, at work, people you can’t get away from
-Feeling hopeless
-Grief & loss
-Separation from loved ones
-Exploitation of any kind
-History of trauma
-Not feeling safe
-Not being able to show up in the world they way you want to

I mean, I could spend the entire day making this list. There are a lot of things that contribute to stress. And the pattern I’m seeing more and more is this…

We are less and less equipped to metabolize the stress and trauma experiences we face in these times.

Clients I work with are constantly saying,

“It feels like such a little thing is effecting me so much!”

“I don’t understand why this is bothering me now!”

“I don’t even know what caused this!”

Until we start working really gently with the nervous system. And give the body some space to air out all the things it has been collecting and storing since the last time you intentionally let go.

What’s that you say? You don’t remember the last time you had intention enough to let things go? Ahhhhh. Well, imagine how much the body has been longing to release! And it’s okay if you never have. It’s never too late to start 🙂

I want to offer an exercise that may help support your nervous system, while giving it the space to release some pressure. We were never designed to hold everything in without having some practice to release.

Before I get to the exercise, I want to say one quick thing: If any part of this doesn’t work for you, feels uncomfortable, causes more activation in your body, STOP. Don’t do it. Don’t muscle through it. And if necessary, seek additional support from a professional or a trusted support person.

For this exercise, you will want to have drinking water close by, or another soothing beverage like herbal tea.

:: I invite you to find a safe, comfortable space, and gently bring your awareness to the water. Notice what it’s in (a bottle, a glass, a plastic cup, etc.). Notice the temperature of the water, without yet taking a drink. And slowly bring the water to your mouth, taking your time to notice all the sensations around slowly drinking your water. Notice if your body has the impulse to drink quickly, or a bit more slowly. Notice how the water makes contact with the inside. And if it feels comfortable, notice what it would be like to take another drink, maybe even a little bit more slowly. Continue noticing the sensations until your body is done, or you don’t want any more water.::

After this exercise you might take some time to journal about what you noticed, or another practice to really notice your experience.

You may utilize this exercise, intentionally drinking water, any time that it feels comfortable to do so. Please always make sure to listen to yourself, and if water is helpful one time and not the next, trust what your body communicates to you.

May you find regulation in your body, your nervous system, your heart, and your soul.

Con mucho amor,
Andrea Marisol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

%d bloggers like this: