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A Stress-Free 2024: Empowerment, Tech, Joy

Mar 29, 2024 ● By Rita Hickman
A girl holding arms up by her shoulders.

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As we tiptoe through the wild days of 2024, our emotions may be running high. So, let’s pause for a moment, take a breath and learn about a three-step post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) hack—Trigger. Regulate. Reflect.—to help us achieve the inner peace so vital to navigating the choppy waters of life more gracefully and happily.

Step 1: Identify Triggers Using Havening

Picture triggers as intrusive thoughts or images that sneak up and cause stress, like shocking headlines or sarcastic texts. Enter stage right: Havening, a touch-based PTSD tool that helps calm the nervous system.

Havening, recognized in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (2019), works by affecting our brain’s electrical activity, reducing delta waves associated with painful memories so our brain can process and let them go. For more information, check out Dr. Ronald Ruden’s book When the Past Is Always Present and visit the Havening website

Here’s a simple Havening technique:

Identify the trigger: We think about something that is stressful, like the news or an argument, and then we rate our stress level between one and 10.

Haven: Gently start stroking both arms 20 times from the shoulders to the wrists. Pay attention to the steady stroking rhythm and imagine waves of warm light washing over.

Think positive affirmations: While Havening, choose a happy thought, feeling or emotion to focus on. Use words like “safe,” “peace” or “calm” to coax the body to relax.

We then rate our stress level again.

Repeat when needed: Instead of stressing out, stroke the arms, legs or hands during a trigger response or panic attack. By doing so, we let the touch calm and soothe our system quickly.

Step 2: Regulate with Brainwave Entrainment

Now, let’s address the nervous system and the “fine-tuned violins of stress”. Picture the nervous system as a symphony in need of a conductor—the conscious mind.

By using brainwave entrainment, we’re being proactive: The knots in our stomach unwind and the headache goes away now instead of later.

As we wade through sad news, we can slip on some headphones and let the high-tech meditations help to smooth things out.

A study published in the Journal of Neurotherapy (2005) suggests that brainwave entrainment can reduce anxiety and enhance mood by influencing the synchronization of neural oscillations.

These little “sound healing rituals” coax the body to kick back, relax and groove to inner peace. It’s a fast way to feel calm without any effort.

To learn more about brainwave entrainment, try IAwake and Sacred Sound Healing to start.

Step 3: Reflecting with Tapas Acupressure Technique

Ahhhhh, it’s time to reflect with an ancient tool for today’s unrelenting stress. To understand Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT), imagine it as an easy “relax button”.

Look for resources like Tapas Acupressure Technique: A Quick Guide, by Tapas Fleming, and YouTube for guided TAT sessions. They offer step-by-step guidance to relax quickly.

All that’s involved is touching certain acupressure points and closing our eyes while reflecting on the day, especially the parts that caused anxiety or felt overwhelming. It’s a proven way to come back from this calm reflection grounded and happy.

A study in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (2006) shows that TAT eases PTSD symptoms. In addition, using TAT during a panic attack or triggering event has been shown to physically change the brain for the better.

Using this simple but highly effective three-step process can help us build courage and strength and achieve calm and centeredness, so we can make 2024 a healthy and peaceful year.

Rita Hickman, an international woman’s mental health coach, helps women regulate their nervous system and develop new skills, habits and tools to let go of chronic stress. Using cutting-edge and ancient PTSD tools, she’s helped women break long-term generational trauma for more than 20 years from her McHenry County practice. For more information, visit