iChill

Did you ever feel so amped up that you thought you were going to explode? or

Have you have ever felt so numb that nothing seemed to matter?

What about trouble sleeping or eating too much or not enough?

iChill teaches a set of skills that can help. You may feel better and even stronger if you practice them regularly, like a very simple exercise program that can be done anywhere.

First, a little background about the effects of stress, brought on by too much pressures at work, at home or after distressing events. We experience the symptoms in our mind, body, and spirit. Family and friends may say, “you are not acting like yourself” and you may not feel like yourself either. This means that the body's natural rhythm is out of balance.

 Like the rhythms of nature, our bodies have natural rhythms too. The nervous system is one of our natural rhythms. When the nervous system is in balance we feel like our best self. This is called our Resilient Zone. When we are in our Resilient Zone, it is easier to respond to life's stresses. (Click on Resiliency Images to see a graphic of the Resilient Zone).

Sometimes when our bodies are out of balance they get stuck in the energy of stress. We are outside the Resilient Zone. Our body may be stuck in the High Zone, amped up, or numbed out, stuck in the Low Zone. Sometimes we bounce between the High Zone and the Low Zone.


There are some key concepts that you need to know about that will help you understand a little more about what happens to your nervous system after distressing events:

    • Stuck in the HIGH ZONE: When you experience a distressing event, your body and mind go on alert. The body’s alert system causes your heart rate to speed up and your breathing to become faster and shallower. It also slows down your digestion. This amping up of your nervous system happens without thinking and when we are in danger it helps us run away or fight whatever the threat may be.
    • Stuck in the LOW ZONE: If the threat and danger last for too long, your body may not put on the brake anymore, and so your body is always running in the High Zone. If it runs in the High Zone for too long, it can crash into the Low Zone and you may feel numb, depressed and tired.
    • "Triggers" are things that remind your nervous system of distressing events from your past. They can include people, places, sounds, body sensations, words, and/or smells connected to distressing events in your life and they can cause you to be bumped out of your Resilient Zone. There can be external triggers or internal triggers. For some people, there can be so many triggers that they can be stuck in the High Zone or the Low Zone much of the time. (Go to the HIGH/LOW ZONE Graphic to see what that looks like).

iChill will teach you the skills of the Community Resiliency Model- Tracking, Resourcing, Grounding, Help Now! and Shift and Stay.


    Skill #1 Tracking

Tracking means noticing what’s happening in your body... especially the sensations inside your body. You will learn to tell the difference between distressing sensations and sensations of well being. As you Track your Nervous System, you will notice your Resilient Zone more often. Go to the iChill Menu and click on Skills, and then click Tracking to learn more about Tracking.


    Skill #2 Resourcing

Resourcing means naming positive things in your life to connect to calming sensations to bring yourself back to your Resilient Zone. Being able to name your resources is the first step, and tracking the sensations that happen inside when you think about the resource is the second step. Tracking resource sensations is the way we talk to the Nervous System and help it to come back into balance.

          How do we make resources stronger?

When you think about more details about the resource, the sensations connected to the resource become stronger. To strengthen the resource sensations, you pay attention to  all the details about the resource that make your pleasurable and calming sensations stronger… for example, if your resource is a place in nature you can notice all the positive smells, sounds, and details of the scene; if it is a person you can notice the expression on their face, think about what you like to do together and see that happening. As you pay close attention to the details of the resource, bring your awareness to the sensations inside your body.

Go to the iChill Menu and click on Skills, and then click Resourcing for the Resourcing exercise. In the Apple/iOS versions of the app you will also notice a button on the top called “ Record Resources”. When you click “Record Resources” you will have three options: Make a Note, Record a Memo and Take a Picture. You can use these options for Resourcing.

            Resilient Zone Scale (RZS)

One way to practice the skills to rebalance your nervous system is to use the Resilient Zone Scale. The Resilient Zone Scale can be used to track whether you are in your Resilient Zone or whether you are stuck in the High or Low Zones. One of the goals of the Community Resiliency Model is to expand or deepen the Resilient Zone so that you experience it more often and if your are bumped out, that you have skills to get back in.

Before listening to or reading the skills, go to the Menu of iChill and click RZ Scale 1-3 represents the Low Zone (blue), 4-7 represents the range in your Resilient Zone (purple) and 8-10 represents the High Zone (red). Slide on to the number which best describes you before and after using the skills. Using the scale will give you feedback to see whether the skills are helping you get back into your Resilient Zone.


    Skill #3: Grounding

Grounding is the direct contact of the body with the ground or with a solid surface that provides support to the body. Grounding is necessary to help stay in the present moment. When  you are grounded you are not worrying about the past or the future. The more that you “Ground”, the more that you will bring your mind and body into its Resilient Zone. Go to the iChill Menu and click on Skills, and then click Grounding for the Grounding exercise.


    Skill #4: Gesturing

Gestering and Spontaneous Movements refers to gestures and movements of the body or limbs that are often below awareness. Gestures can be:
    • Self-calming: bringing comfort and safety
    • Releasing: representing the body releasing sensations of stress or trauma.
    • Universal: representing wholeness, spiritual beliefs or deep personal meaning
    • Joyful and Powerful: representing well-being
Tracking the sensations connected to your gesture or movement can help you strengthen your Resilient Zone.

   
    Skill #5: Help Now!


In the corner of your iChill app is a button that says Help Now! The Help Now! Strategies will help you get back into your Resilient Zone if your nervous system gets hijacked and you are bumped into your Low or High Zones. We suggest letting your friends and family members know about the Help Now! Strategies as they can help you use them if you need them.


    Skill #6: Shift and Stay

Shift and Stay means shifting your attention from something unpleasant or distressing that can include thoughts, feelings, or sensations to a place in the body that is neutral or pleasant. Go to the iChill Menu and click on Skills, and then click Shift and Stay for the Shift and Stay exercise.

You have now learned the basics about your nervous system and know how important it is to stay in your Resilient Zone. If you practice the skills regularly you can begin to train your  nervous system to get back into your Resilient Zone more quickly even when difficult experiences happen to you in your life. People who use the skills and exercise them regularly often say, "I am in charge of my anxiety now, it is not in charge of me." The more you use the skills, the more you may feel whole in body, mind and spirit. We have confidence in your ability with practice to deepen your Resilient Zone. We wish you well.


 If you are feeling distressed and need to speak to a trained counselor, you can call 800-273-8255, the National Life Line.
    "The dark moment the caterpillar calls the end, is the sun-filled moment the butterfly calls the beginning. "...Unknown

iChill was narrated and adapted by Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW, the Executive Director of the Trauma Resource Institute. The iChill app was created by Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW and Laurie Leitch, PhD, co-founders the Trauma Resource Institute www.traumaresourceinstitute.com

Trauma Resiliency Model and the Community Resiliency Model have been inspired by Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, Jean Ayres’ Sensory Integration Theory and Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing.

This iChill app is not meant to take the place of counseling with a licensed mental health professional