- Traumatic stress is a type of anxiety disorder which you may develop after being involved in, or witnessing, life threatening traumatic events like an attack, a fire, a natural disaster, a car accident, etc.
- It is perfectly normal to have a psychological reaction to traumas that can last for a few days or a few weeks. We may;
- feel numb
- have trouble sleeping
- shock and disbelief
- anger, helplessness or fear
- flashbacks (re-picturing and or experiencing the events)
- Experiencing these things after a traumatic event may be called an ‘acute stress reaction’.
- You might re-experience the incident through intrusive flashbacks or nightmares. Following such an experience, it is also common to avoid things that remind you of the incident.
- Some people find it most helpful to try and forget about the trauma and just get on with life, while other people find it helpful to talk about their feelings to someone.
The intensity of symptoms will likely pass within a month or so. Everything always changes. My feelings are waves that come and go.
Talk about the experience in a safe environment, or write about it. If you continuously avoid examining your reactions and not expressing your distress or concerns will likely increase or prolong negative reactions.
Tips for managing Traumatic stress:
- If the traumatic situation is ongoing, get some help to make yourself safe. You may need some help in finding a safe place to stay.
- Reach out to others for support. You don’t have to face it alone. Talk to someone you can connect with for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who listens to you without judging, criticizing or continually getting distracted. That person could be a friend, your significant other, your family, or a professional therapist.
- Know that how you are feeling is very normal for someone who has experience a traumatic event
- Accept that it might take some time to adjust. Be kind to yourself.
- Some who experience traumatic stress might develop a sense of helplessness. One way of coping with sense of helplessness is through helping others. Volunteer your time, give blood, reach out to a friend in need, and donate to a charity. Taking positive actions directly change the sense of helplessness.
- Engage in some physical exercises and focus on your body and how it feels as you move. Some rhythmic exercises that engage both arms or legs, such as running, walking, dancing or swimming are the best exercises that you can focus on your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin.
- Spend time in nature. Anyone with traumatic stress can benefit from the relaxation, seclusion and peace that come with being out in the nature.
- Carry an object that reminds of the present. It will be helpful if you touch or see something during a flashback. This might be something precious such as a keyring, photo of a loved one or a piece of jewelry in your bag or pocket.
- Keep a diary of what triggers you to have flashbacks. Keeping a diary of triggers helps you to notice the signs that bring the memories of the trauma; thus, you can avoid them.
- There is a connection between your actions and how you feel. Believe in your own capacity to influence the course of your life.
- Be engaged and present in your life, and this helps you to be active, instead of passive, during challenging times.