Traumas are a part of life—there is no avoiding them, and often they strike out of a clear blue sky, when we feel unprepared to cope. Bereavement is the worst experience most of us will endure, but don’t underestimate the effect of injury, job loss, relationship breakdown, or being involved in (or witness to) a violent event. The sense of being out of control can be overwhelming, but there are things we can do to put direction back into our lives.
Face the Feelings
It’s tempting to shove our emotions to the back of our minds and to try to carry on. But ignoring our emotions will not make them go away. Allow yourself plenty of time to enter into the feelings that you have, and try to find opportunity to express them. Select the particular friends that you will talk to—they shouldn’t be people who will get embarrassed or bored, or who will try to offer advice that you don’t ask for.
Avoid thinking that you are not responding ‘normally’ enough. There is no right way to respond to a traumatic event, and each of us handles it differently. You can look up the ‘stages of grief,’ for instance, but these are just experiences that are common, though in no special order or time-frame.
Your physical and mental health is your major concern at the moment—don’t be ashamed of putting your needs first.
Try to get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Walk as much as you can—it is a shock to discover that the rest of the world is carrying on as if nothing has happened, but observing the normality of other people’s behavior, and the routines of nature going their predictable way, can help you to feel part of something bigger than your own pain.
Avoid the risk of falling ill. Infections or toothache can happen easily when you are down, and get in the way of your healing process. Make sure you have the systems in place to respond quickly to something like a dental emergency with decent cover—learn how at Carefree Dental.
Watch out for a natural tendency for thoughts to go round and round without resolution. Unlike feelings, thoughts are partly within your control, so you can consciously put them aside when they become too repetitive.
There is nothing as stressful as trauma. Exercise and healthy eating will play a part in dealing with stress, and might also help you to sleep better. You could also learn techniques for reducing stress. For instance, sit quietly and concentrate your mind on your steady breathing. Or sit with your eyes closed and carefully take note of every sound you can hear, every scent you can smell, every touch you can feel. Or visualize a scene which makes you feel peaceful.
Stick to a routine which delivers the things that give you joy. The pleasure may well go out of them temporarily, but on a deeper level they should help you to keep in touch with the real you. Routine itself is helpful to get you through each day, so stick to regular mealtimes, and if you have a family make it your responsibility to keep them to their routine.
It is so easy to shut ourselves away when dealing with painful events, but other people are an essential part of the healing process. You need to be alone for parts of each day, and it would be a mistake to fill every waking moment with social interaction, but regular human contact, built into the routine of the day, will help you through.
This is a time when your true friends will show their colors, but try not to judge others who are awkward and embarrassed. The time will come when relationships will get back to a more predictable pattern.
Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help if you feel you are not coping. If you have a religious faith, you can ask for support from your minister. Experienced counselors are always available, some of whom specialize in particular areas of trauma.
The Power of Life
Living through the aftermath of a dreadful event can make us feel very alone, but although your situation is unique and nobody ‘knows what you feel like,’ coping with trauma is part of life for nearly everyone. The fact that so many normal people are walking around bearing the memory of bad experiences is testimony to the power of the human spirit to heal.
Sad Girl – pixabay Public Domain
Guest Author Bio
Matthew Thompson has worked as a life coach for several years, ever since his own wake-up call to life to the fullest doing what he loves. He enjoys sharing his passion online, and writes motivational articles which appear on a variety of blogs.