I recently came across a term I hadn't heard before, "crisis fatigue" Crisis fatigue occurs when our ability to be resilient (or "bounce back") is flooded with an ongoing series of intense, energy-consuming or traumatic experiences. As best as I can tell, it's a form of burnout. Crisis fatigue, like burnout, is a response to ongoing and intense stress, like that faced by people trying to survive war or armed conflict, economic or financially stressful conditions, political instability, natural disasters, or - yes - a pandemic. Based on what I'm hearing from my colleagues and patients, many of us are facing crisis fatigue.
Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich, from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/matchsticks-on-pink-surface-6837623/
One of my relatively new responsibilities in my job is helping people with insomnia. I use a modality called "CBT-I" or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia for the most part, but occasionally I get to work with people on dreams, especially when they're trauma-related. I love doing this work as it tends to be rich, satisfying, and full of meaning for the people I work with. For nightmares, we use a technique called "image rehearsal therapy," which Marsha Lineman summarized in her "Nightmare Protocol" in the Emotion Regulation section of 2nd edition DBT. The basic idea is that you pick a nightmare with a recurring story or theme, and write it down in as much detail as you can muster. You then write an alternate ending to the dream, one in which you deliberately pick an ending that either leaves you in control, overcoming the fear or problem, or trumping over the fear. You then rehearse the dream with the new ending every day, and practice relaxation strategies and stress management techniques both before the rehearsal and after. With enough practice and time, your subconscious integrates the new information and you ideally both change the narrative of the dream and reduce the hold that fear or trauma has over you.
Photo credit: Engin_Akyurt, from: https://pixabay.com/photos/under-water-fashion-woman-1819586/
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