Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) can occur as a result of any event that is outside of our usual experiences of life. We may have been involved with an event or someone who has gone through trauma, and find that we may be experiencing similar symptoms as those who have experienced the trauma first hand. Many will recover naturally while others remain in a form of 'stuckness' where they continue to re-experience the trauma as though it is still occurring in the present.
The reactions alone to the trauma can be problematic contributing to an artificial benchmark for how we think we ought to be reacting. Understand that there is no correct way of reacting to trauma as we are all very different with unique personal histories. Some would argue trauma is a relative term because a trauma for one may not be for another. It is a very complex and researched area as to why some can walk away unaffected while others suffer. For this reason, those who have been traumatized often add to their own suffering by their self critical attitude towards how they feel they 'ought' to be coping.
Negative self appraisal refers to how one assesses self in a negative self demeaning way in the face of and how they react to trauma. Shame is often accompanied after trauma for not 'handling' oneself or for the lack of control over the emerging symptoms. If you are suffering as a result of your trauma, may it be said at this point - you are no less human than those who return to their lives shortly after the event and who appear unscathed. Comparing and contrasting coping styles adds a type of pressure to one's post-trauma performance. It is important to try and not compare at this time. This is a time to be kind to yourself and to find new ways of self soothing. There are reasons for reacting to your experience the way you do.
Those suffering with trauma related symptoms such as re-experiencing, hyper-arousal, avoidance/numbness may find the thought of talking about the traumatic experience overwhelming. That is understandable and it is important to discover a safe, supportive and comfortable space to look at the trauma New Aniibiish Counselling works to create the right space for you to feel comfortable before any sharing around the trauma takes place. With over ten years experience working with various forms of trauma and appreciate the importance of feeling safe, protected and in control.
But what if you are not ready to talk about your trauma...
Below you will find some emotional and psychological trauma coping tips:
Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you’ve experienced. Don’t try to force the healing process. Be patient with yourself. Finally, be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.
Trauma self-help strategy 1: Don’t isolate
Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
Ask for support. It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, or support.
Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by comforting or helping others.
Trauma self-help strategy 2: Stay grounded
In order to stay grounded after a trauma, it helps to have a structured schedule to follow.
Stick to a daily routine, with regular times for waking, sleeping, eating, working, and exercise. Make sure to schedule time for relaxing and social activities, too.
Break large jobs into smaller, manageable tasks. Take pleasure from the accomplishment of achieving something, even it’s a small thing.
Find activities that make you feel better and keep your mind occupied (reading, taking a class, cooking, playing with your kids or pets), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to focusing on the traumatic experience.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. Accepting your feelings is part of the grieving process and is necessary for healing.
Staying grounded: An exercise
If you are feeling disoriented, confused, or upset, you can do the following exercise:
Sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground. Press on your thighs. Feel your behind on the seat and your back against the chair.
Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue. This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded, and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer.
You may want to go outdoors and find a peaceful place to sit on the grass. As you do, feel how your body can be held and supported by the ground.
Trauma self-help strategy 3: Take care of your health
A healthy body increases your ability to cope with stress from a trauma.
Get plenty of sleep. After a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. A lack of sleep can make your trauma symptoms worse and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Avoid alcohol and drugs as their use can worsen your trauma symptoms and exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. It also boosts self-esteem and helps to improve sleep. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats—such as salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds—can give your mood a boost.
Reduce stress. Making time for rest and relaxation will help you bring your life back into balance. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy—favorite hobbies or activities with friends, for example.
When you are ready for counselling services please consider contacting New Aniibiish.