Most people who experience traumatic events show post-traumatic symptoms for some time afterward, but then return to living normal lives. These 7 self-care tips from our trauma experts have been shown bolster resilience in the wake of trauma.
- Speak to family and friends
Support from family and friends has been shown to have a huge impact on healthy coping in the aftermath of trauma. It is usually quite helpful to share thoughts and feelings with family and friends with whom you feel close. You may find that you wish to talk about the trauma over and over again. This often happens to people in the days and weeks following a traumatic experience. That said, if others try to talk with you about your traumatic experience but you’d prefer not to, you have every right to refuse.
2. Become a trauma expert
One of the most important tools in dealing with trauma is arming yourself with information about typical responses, survivor stories, and trajectories. The more you know about trauma, its consequences and the ways to overcome it, the better you will be able to handle what you are experiencing.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Try to return to your daily routine as soon as you can. This should include eating healthy, regular meals, getting enough sleep and making sure to get out of the house and get some exercise, even if that just means going for walks near your home.
4. Relaxation exercises
Daily relaxation and mindfulness techniques can help you deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life. That is even more true after trauma. The mind and body are so connected that more relaxed your mind is, the more relaxed your body will feel; and a more relaxed body will then positively impact your mood. Try to practice some of our mindfulness exercises or others you know once or twice a day, for several minutes at a time. It might be difficult at first, but don’t be dissuaded.
5. Avoid self-judgment
In most traumatic circumstances, survivors are not to blame for the situation they have found themselves in. Don’t be angry with or blame yourself for what happened to you or for your behavior during and after the traumatic event. Even reactions such as anger, anxiety and depression are completely normal following a traumatic experience, and blaming yourself will only make things more difficult for you. If you do feel guilt, anger, or sadness, it often helps to share your feelings with others, who may help you gain another perspective on your situation. Despite this, if you still feel that your behavior is out of control or goes beyond the normal boundaries (for instance, violent behavior that hurts yourself or others, suicidal thoughts or use of alcohol or drugs), you should seek professional help immediately.
6. Try to avoid making important decisions
In the days and weeks following the traumatic event you may experience many negative emotions. These feelings typically pass in time and give way to more positive emotions and a return to normal life. For this reason, it is important to avoid making important decisions in the weeks after experiencing a traumatic event that you may regret later. Remind yourself that your feelings now, no matter how intense they may be, will grow less intense with time, and it is entirely possible that decisions that you are considering will be perceived as mistakes a few weeks from now. Consult with family and friends, and try to see the larger picture in order to avoid having regrets in the future.
7. Consider seeking professional help
Various post-traumatic symptoms such as fears, nightmares, repeated thoughts about the traumatic event and complaints about physical pains are normal symptoms that appear in the immediate aftermath of trauma. However, in the event that these symptoms continue for more than a few weeks, if they intensify, or if they cause significant distress that interferes with your daily functioning, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.