Non-Weather-Related Freeze: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck from Trauma

Before the devastating snow, ice, and wind storm of January 2024 in Oregon, I had been frozen for months.

If you regularly read my newsletters or follow me on social media, you may have noticed a big drop in content, more than a big drop, a nearly complete freeze. The freeze was due to my trauma response. Trauma can shut down creativity, and for me, that means writing and posting. After my husband died by suicide in 2016 I had a similar but much deeper freeze. I was unable to complete even the smallest task without great effort. Sleep, eating, and basic daily functioning were beyond my ability.

Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and trauma therapy slowly allowed a thaw. First I was able to function to do daily tasks, leave the house, drive, then work, then travel beyond my neighborhood, and eventually create safety in my life, enough to reconnect to my creativity to teach and start writing and speaking about my experiences.

As a writer, creating content for my blog and social media, speaking, and podcast guesting was a crucial step on my journey.

The difference between trauma and other forms of stress is that the nervous system becomes completely overloaded, like a circuit breaking; everything shuts down until the reset happens. Although I was pretty well reset by 2018, PTSD is something I will function with for the rest of my life.

I had a triple stressor happen in late September and early October of 2023, and, as I did in 2016, I shut down. I never lost the ability to complete daily tasks; I still taught, recorded podcasts, and managed speaking engagements, but I was unable to write my thoughts and feelings or share posts as I navigated my way forward to reconnect with my creative nature.

Finally, I am reconnecting, as the outside world here in Oregon is beginning to thaw from one of the most damaging storms in decades (people are likening the damage to the Columbus Day storm of 1962) 500+ trees are down in the Portland Metro area, power outages, homes and cars crushed and flooded, even some deaths. We will be suffering from this damage for months, maybe years. 

As I watch the ice melting in sheets off the trees and roofs and hear the welcome sound of dripping water from the gutters, I am finally thawed inside and out enough to share some of the essential wisdom I used to move on from the freeze.

5 ways to get unstuck from Trauma:

1 – Don’t rush. If you are in survival mode, and all you can do is eat and sleep and binge-watch a show, then do that. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do more when you are already overloaded by trauma. Think of it as trying to plug the coffee pot back in when the power hasn’t yet been restored. It’s pointless and frustrating. If you know getting moving will make you feel better, select one small task to do, connect with a supporter who can cheer you on, and do that one small task. Rinse, repeat.

2 – Be aware of your current situation. It is tempting to distract from the pain and self-criticism of guilt or inadequacy with drugs and alcohol, bingeing shows, over-shopping, or other unhealthy behaviors that continue the freeze.  Awareness is the first step in making change. Is it time to get off the couch and walk, even to the other end of the room? Small doable steps when you are ready, but if you aren’t, bring awareness to your non-readiness. Small dips into awareness can help you assess if you’re ready to begin getting support for your thaw.

3 – Breathe. Awareness of your breath is informative. Is your breath short and shallow, up in your chest? Breathing deeply, even one deep breath into your belly to start, will open the doorway to begin managing trauma. If taking a deep breath feels terrible, there are many other mindfulness tools to use; walking, listening to music, focusing on your senses, what can you see hear, smell, taste, and touch? When you are ready, you’ll find a mindfulness practice that works and begin to melt the freeze of trauma.

4 – Feel. Feeling your body (like feeling your breath in step 3) can give you information on how to proceed. Is your chest tight? Are you holding tension in your shoulders? A brief mindful movement practice can help release the tension in those areas and get feelings flowing. One of the talks I love to give is titled “Feel it to Heal It.” Feelings come and go, and emotions are energy in motion; allowing yourself to feel the feelings and then letting them pass will help you get unstuck.

5 – Put all 4 of the previous steps together, and you’ll know how to proceed. If you breathe, are aware of the situation, and know how you feel, then you can plan for what type of support you need to reach your next goal. That goal may be “I can’t make a goal right now,” which is okay; keep breathing!

I am grateful to be moving out of this difficult time, but I also know there will be more challenges coming, and to support myself and therefore my students and clients I need to continue to practice what I teach. 

I have a few podcasts out and another coming soon where I talk about breathing and feeling and how crucial mindfulness practices are to moving through difficult times.

I hope you’ll enjoy them. I know they will be helpful, and if you need more support for getting through tough times or getting unstuck, I’m here for you. You can always reply to this email to reach me!

Or better yet, you can have a full hour of coaching for a limited time for $24 (new clients only). Celebrating the new year and supporting you to successfully make the changes you want to make, $24 for 2024.


In her recent podcast series, “Navigating Conversations on Suicide Loss,” Caro Brookings, Suicide Bereavement Coach, set out to help suicide loss survivors create confidence in discussing suicide. Listen if you’d like to develop more compassion and insight into how to support yourself if you are a suicide loss surivivor, or if you know a suicide loss survivor and you want to know how to be more sensitive to their situation and be a better supporter for them.

My friend Candice Snyder created the podcast Passion Purpose and Possibilities after going through a health crisis and resulting disability. In our conversation we discuss finding Joy after Loss. 

Here’s what to expect on the podcast: We discuss trauma therapy and how it helps to process and cope with traumatic memories, what factors might contribute to getting stuck on your healing journey and how meditaiton and mindfulness practices help ease suffering through difficult times.

Georgena Grace has been one of my deepest supporters. I knew her before I lost my husband to suicide and she has been an incredible inspiration to me. She is not only a skilled and knowledgeable grief therapist and trauma specialist, but has first hand knowledge of the intensity of suicide loss of a primary family member. I am so grateful to have been a guest on her podcast, Integrated Wellbeing

Listen for some simple practices and tips how to manage stress and trauma.

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