iChill

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

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

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

iChill shares with you a set of wellness skills called the Community Resiliency Model. Science tells us that when we exercise our resiliency muscle by practicing wellness skills, our wellbeing expands. We have learned what we pay attention to grows.

If you practice the skills regularly, they can help you feel better in mind, body, and spirit. After stressful or traumatic events, many of us can get stuck in the High Zone, feeling anxious and uptight or are stuck in the Low Zone, feeling numb, disconnected and exhausted. Some of us shift from High to Low Zone and no longer feel like our best self. We may have trouble sleeping or eating too much.

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. We make better decisions for our self, our family and our community. This is called our Resilient Zone or our "OK ZONE". When we are in our Resilient Zone, we can manage the stresses of life better. (Go to Resiliency Images to see a graphic of the Resilient Zone).

Many of us experience the effects of stress because of challenges at home, at work, and from our wider community. Sometimes the stress is just too much and family and friends may begin to say, "you are not acting like yourself" and you may not feel like yourself either. This means that your body's natural rhythm is out of balance.

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:

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


Skill #1 Tracking

Tracking or reading your nervous system means becoming aware of what is happening in your body. You will learn to tell the difference between distressing sensations and sensations of wellbeing. As you track or read 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 things in your life that are uplifting, peaceful, joyous, or calming to connect to sensations of wellbeing that are pleasant or neutral 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 makes 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 you are bumped out, that you have the skills to get back in.

Before listening to or reading the skills, go to the menu of iChill and click Resilient Zone - Before. 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 using the skills. After using the skills, you can click Resilient Zone - After and slide the scale to the number that best describes you. 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 or part of the body with the ground or with a surface that provides support to the body. You can ground sitting, standing up, walking, or simply noticing how a part of your body is making contact with a surface - like a table, a chair, or a wall. 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

Gesturing and spontaneous movements refer to gestures and movements of the body or limbs that are often below awareness. Gestures can be:

Tracking the sensations connected to your gesture or movement can help you strengthen your Resilient Zone.


Skill #5: Help Now!

In the top 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. It is best to practice Help Now! strategies when you are in your Resilient Zone so that you have an experience with them prior to being bumped out.


Skill #6: Shift and Stay

Shift and Stay means shifting your attention from unpleasant or distressing sensations to a place in the body that is neutral or pleasant, or to one of the skills - a resource, grounding, a self-calming gesture, or a Help Now! Strategy. 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 someone, you can call the National Life Line at 1-800-273-8255. Or you can use the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. any time about any type of crisis.

"The dark moment the caterpillar calls the end, is the sun-filled moment the butterfly calls the beginning. "...Unknown

iChill was narrated by Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW, the co-founder of the Trauma Resource Institute. To learn more about the Community Resiliency Model, you can read Elaine's book, Building Resilience to Trauma, The Trauma and Community Resiliency Models(2015) published by Routledge. The Trauma Resource Institute can be contacted at www.traumaresourceinstitute.com.

The 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 website is not meant to take the place of counseling with a licensed mental health professional.