How To Deal With Trauma: 10 Tips To Follow
Recently, it seems like there’s an endless stream of random and violent tragedies happening every week, from public shootings to terrorist attacks and hate crimes. The Harvard School of Public Health found that a mass shooting has occurred every 64 days in the U.S. since 2011.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, alcoholism, or suicide than from random violence. After listening to news coverage and seeing alerts in your email, it’s easy to think, what if it had been me at that nightclub, movie theater, or holiday party?
So How Can We Overcome Trauma?
It can be tricky to figure out if what you’re feeling is even connected to what you see on the news since trauma affects people differently.
In addition to trauma having many causes, people can respond to it in many different ways. Dealing with trauma is a complex process, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. PTSD can occur after a tragic event or period, like COVID-19, or as a result of difficult, painful childhood experiences.
The most important thing is to learn how to deal with trauma healthily so that you can heal and move forward in life. Learn more about coping with trauma by reading on.
How Does Trauma Affect Us?
It is important to understand what trauma is in order to cope with it. An experience that is physically or psychologically harmful results in trauma.
Any number of causes can lead to it, including car accidents, bullying, abuse, and natural disasters. An experience can negatively affect a person’s mental health and ability to function on a daily basis.
There are many ways in which it can affect people. People might experience flashbacks that trigger memories of the trauma and make them feel as if they are experiencing it all over again.
Anxiety and insomnia are also common symptoms of trauma victims. It is also common for mental health problems to develop as a result of trauma over time.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts are all possible outcomes of trauma.
The Difference Between Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) share many symptoms and are both reactions to trauma. Despite their similarities, people with traumatic stress typically see their symptoms improve as time progresses.
PTSD, on the other hand, can cause shock, and PTSD symptoms may become more severe over time. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, but it’s definitely something to consider.
10 Ways to Deal with Trauma
It is important to deal with trauma constructively, no matter what type of symptoms you are experiencing. It is impossible to erase your experiences, but you can manage your symptoms and rebuild your life by taking the right steps.
Embrace your emotions.
When dealing with unresolved trauma, it’s important to learn to accept the emotions that you’re experiencing – yes, this is probably easier said than done. In the long run, if you ignore or bottle up your feelings, you may end up feeling more stressed.
Allow yourself to feel angry, guilty, or shocked about what you’ve experienced without judging yourself. Healing from trauma takes time, and it won’t happen overnight.
Whether you’re dealing with intense emotions or volatile emotions, it’s okay. You don’t have to get back to normal right away. Don’t rush the healing process; instead, be patient. Take a mental health day when you feel you need it.
Taking care of yourself should be a priority.
You may neglect your basic needs when you’re coping with trauma. The severity of traumatic stress symptoms could be exacerbated by a poor diet or lack of sleep.
Taking better care of yourself will give you the strength you need to recover. To maintain a centered and healthy mind-body, self-care is essential. After a traumatic experience, many people struggle with insomnia, but good sleep hygiene can help you get the rest you need.
Sleep and mental health are strongly correlated. You can improve your mood by exercising and resting after a long day. You shouldn’t overlook your own health if you’re trying to cope with trauma.
Keep in touch with family and friends.
Although it’s common to withdraw after a traumatic experience, your relationships with others can provide strength. Several studies have shown that social support can reduce the amount of cortisol the body produces when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
If you feel comfortable discussing your trauma with your loved ones, you should not hesitate to do so. However, any type of social interaction can be beneficial even if you don’t speak with them about it.
You might even begin to feel more like yourself after spending time with the people you care about.
Efforts should be made to reduce stress in your life.
It can be difficult to cope with stress, especially when you’re trying to recover from trauma. During the healing process, limit your stress levels. You should manage stress in a healthy manner.
Related: How to Deal with Stress: 15 Ways to Cope
There are professional treatment options available for traumatic stress.
A professional may be able to help you if you don’t know how to handle trauma on your own or if your symptoms don’t seem to improve over time. Trauma can be coped with using several evidence-based treatments.
Therapy that focuses on recognizing and changing unhealthy thought patterns, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is extremely effective at treating traumatic stress. It is for this reason that CBT is one of the most commonly used treatments for PTSD.
CBT may even reduce the risk of developing PTSD, according to some studies. Treatments and forms of trauma therapy, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and stress inoculation training (SIT), can also be very helpful.
Don’t lose sight of what’s important.
You should focus your resources when dealing with the aftermath of a crisis. Getting through the day is an accomplishment, so pare down your responsibilities so you can just do that.
You can conserve resources by ordering takeout instead of preparing meals. You can save time and energy by cutting down on shopping and cooking, putting off unnecessary commitments, and focusing on the things you need to do to conserve your emotional and physical energy.
Seek out external support.
If others know about your trauma, chances are they will offer to help; now is the time to accept their offer. Allow your loved ones to lighten your load by helping with tasks or providing a listening ear.
You can repay the favor later when you’re up to it and they need something from you.
Reduce your stress response.
You may experience a constant state of stress when you experience a crisis (or when someone close to you experiences a crisis). While it may be difficult to feel “relaxed” during or after a crisis, you can practice stress relief techniques that can ease your stress levels, reverse your stress response, and make you more resilient.
It is beneficial to use techniques such as guided imagery, yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Feel your feelings and process them.
If you are experiencing difficulty integrating your experience, it is important to put words to it, whether you write in a journal, talk to a friend, or consult with a therapist.
When you’re going through a crisis, you might feel tempted to ignore your feelings for fear that you’ll ‘wallow’ too much and become stuck, but processing your feelings will help you move past them and let them go.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and do other things to prevent adding to your problems.
You should also do something you normally enjoy to relieve some of your stress, such as watching a movie, reading a book, or gardening.
When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, you should also comfort yourself. By taking a short walk, writing in a gratitude journal, meditating, or relaxing with a weighted blanket, you may boost resilience and mental strength.
Accept your feelings and practice accepting yourself.
Emotions that are painful and difficult can be scary, but learning to accept and tolerate them can be helpful. Emotional acceptance emphasizes allowing such feelings to exist and recognizing that they cannot harm you instead of rejecting, denying, or suppressing them.
Acceptance allows you to deal with your feelings in a healthy or productive manner rather than rejecting them or feeling overwhelmed by them. This can help you better understand your emotions, as well as regulate them more effectively.
Put your senses to work.
Grounding yourself in the present moment can reduce feelings of anxiety and fear when you feel overwhelmed by distressing feelings or thoughts.
The purpose of grounding is to distract you from unwanted memories, difficult emotions, and flashbacks.
It is also possible to ground using the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Using this strategy, you list things around you, starting with five and working down to one. You might list five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Explore your creative side with Creative Exploration.
Trauma can also be coped with through the arts and creative expression. Artistic methods may promote healing and foster greater mental health.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be treated with art therapy. In another study, art therapy was associated with significant reductions in symptoms of trauma and depression in adults who had experienced traumatic events.
You can experiment with creative expression on your own. Coloring, drawing, finger painting, sculpting, painting, or taking pictures are some effective strategies.
A mental health professional experienced in this approach to therapy may be able to help you.
Make use of deep breathing.
Practicing deep breathing can help you cope with anxiety and stress. Diaphragmatic breathing involves taking deep breaths from the diaphragm rather than shallow breaths from the chest.
People often take rapid, shallow breaths when stressed, which increases the body’s anxiety response. Calming the body and inducing relaxation can be achieved by breathing slower and deeper.
Take a deep breath that causes your stomach to rise to accomplish this. Exhale slowly after holding your breath for three counts.
Repeat this breathing pattern for several minutes until you feel yourself becoming calmer.
Don’t stray from your routine.
Keep a routine when you are dealing with traumatic events in your life to protect your mental health. The routine can help you stay focused and in control when life feels unpredictable.
Stress and anxiety can be managed through such routines, according to research. When facing life’s challenges, maintaining some sense of structure can also help you take better care of yourself.
Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
Trauma can make you feel helpless and powerless, which can be frightening and overwhelming. Focusing on what you can control can help you combat this.
Your attention can be better focused on the things within your control that might help improve your situation when you shift it away from the things you cannot control. You will feel more empowered and resilient as you cope with stressors in your life this way.
Seek help when you need it.
It may be helpful to speak to a professional about your situation if you are experiencing intrusive thoughts and feelings, having recurrent nightmares, or not being able to move through your life as much as you need to because of your reaction to the trauma, even after several weeks.
It’s better to err on the side of extra help even if you don’t have any major problems, but you feel that talking to someone might be helpful. You can feel better and get back on track with effective treatments.