How to Cope with Traumatic Events

How to Cope with Traumatic Events

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Witnessing distressing incidents in the media often leads to feelings of vulnerability and unease, a common reaction. Whether an individual is personally impacted by such an event or experiences it vicariously, recognizing and accepting these emotions is essential for their mental wellbeing. The unpredictability of such events only heightens the sense of unease.

To effectively prepare for and manage such traumatic incidents, we should foster personal resilience – our capability to recover and progress beyond a traumatic incident. When encountering a personally distressing situation or being exposed to one in the broader world, we can leverage these experiences to bolster resilience and enhance our coping abilities. Here are some strategies for cultivating personal resilience:

Connect With Others

Following a distressing incident, it’s natural to feel the urge to isolate yourself and avoid social interactions. However, engaging in person-to-person connections is crucial for your healing process. A straightforward conversation with another individual can stimulate hormones that help alleviate trauma-induced stress.

Discussing your traumatic experiences isn’t a requirement. The essence of reaching out to others doesn’t always mean delving into the details of the distressing event. The comfort you seek stems from the sense of connection and involvement with people you trust. Engage in regular activities and discussions with friends and family unrelated to the traumatic event, as this can help manage your stress levels.

Clinical Treatment Choices for Traumatic Stress

If you struggle to handle trauma independently, consult a professional. There are several treatments backed by scientific research that can effectively help you manage trauma.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a trauma training approach crafted to assist individuals in identifying and modifying detrimental thought patterns, and is particularly practical for traumatic stress. CBT is a frequently used treatment for PTSD. There’s even research suggesting that CBT may reduce the possibility of PTSD development. In addition to CBT, other methods of trauma therapy, such as Eye Movement Desensitization, Reprocessing, and Stress Inoculation Training, have also proven to be quite beneficial.

Recognize Your Emotions

Coming to terms with unresolved trauma is largely about acknowledging the difficult emotions you’re grappling with. Suppressing or overlooking your feelings could potentially result in increased stress over time. Whether your emotions range from anger, guilt, or shock due to your experiences, it’s crucial to let yourself experience these feelings without self-criticism.

Recovering from trauma is a process that requires time, and instant recovery is unrealistic. It’s perfectly fine if you’re encountering intense or unstable emotions. Avoid rushing yourself to return to your usual state. Instead, show patience and allot ample time for your healing process. Pay attention to the indicators that suggest you might need a day dedicated to mental health.

Get Some Sleep

Emphasize on sleep as it plays a key role in overall health and our ability to manage stress. If sleeping becomes a challenge, try soaking in some morning sunlight, abstain from daytime napping, and eliminate exposure to bright lights and screens in the evening. 

These steps can aid in resetting your regular sleep pattern. It may also be beneficial to reduce or completely avoid exposure to social media and news stories about distressing incidents that could escalate your anxiety.

If you find yourself plagued by dreams or thoughts about traumatic events when you’re trying to sleep, consider reaching out to your primary healthcare provider or a mental health professional. They can guide you on suitable, non-addictive sleep aids that might help for a short period.

Endnote

The timeline for healing from emotional trauma isn’t fixed and without proper guidance, it may never completely heal. However, when you have the right help, you can learn to handle and overcome your emotional distress. While it’s not a brief journey, our therapists are prepared to stand by your side throughout this healing process.