2013-10-25 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Resilience in Rockaway
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH

The way in which each person perceives a challenge, a crisis, a traumatic event is unique to that person.

The way in which a person reacts to that challenge, crisis and traumatic event is unique to that person. Resiliency is hard wired into human beings. Resilience is the way in which a person “rights” themselves after an adverse event. It is a characteristic of resilience called equilibrium, balance, a return to center, that a healthy person is able to achieve following a traumatic event.

The fact is that by the time we reach adulthood, there has been more than one such event that adds a cumulative burden to the system.

Resilience is easier to see in children. They “bounce back” quickly. It is not the amount of challenges that they have faced but rather, the intensity that dictates their resiliency.

In my family practice of 25 years in Rockaway, I have witnessed the community deal with the terrible destruction and loss of lives in 9/11. I have watched the recovery, individually and collectively. It was accomplished through support, camaraderie, compassion and team building towards a better day. Hurricane Sandy tested the mettle of our community in an unprecedented way. Yet, the same strategy prevailed. People helped people. Neighbors took in neighbors, shared clothing, food, water, gas. Uncommon deeds of kindness were replete in Rockaway.

We were enabled to regain our balance through the commonality of cohesiveness. Communities who bond together for the common good show the highest rates of recovery from disasters of all kinds. Yes, resiliency is hard wired into human beings. Research shows that resilience is furthered by emphasizing positive coping actions. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complication that I have seen manifest in our families in the days, weeks, now a year after Sandy. PTSD is insidious, gradual and requires positive action steps to return you to equilibrium. Anxiety, crying for “no reason”, insomnia, mood swings, eating or drinking disorders, disrupted relationships are all features of PTSD.

Awareness is the first step. Recognition that these symptoms are real is movement towards resiliency. There does not have to be an overt disease state or pathology present in order to justify your feelings that you are not “right”. Action steps proven to yield best results in PTSD:

*Education: Information is power and gives one a greater sense of control.

*Support: The counsel of your doctor is primary. Cognitive behavioral therapy has best results.

*Relaxation: breathing, yoga, guided imagery, music, exercise, meditation.

*Natural medicines: homeopathy.

EVENT: The Power of Self Care with Dr. Gahles; Host: Cuisine By Claudette; 143 Beach 116 Street, Friday, Nov. 8th, 7 -9 PM

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