A traumatic event is a shocking experience for which our normal ways of processing and coping become overwhelmed. Reactions to such events vary from person to person but often lead to feelings of confusion and fear. Usually unsettling thoughts and feelings dissipate over a few weeks as the brain begins to make sense of and process what happened. However repeated exposure to such events and situations, or the fear of them reoccurring can lead to living in a state of traumatic stress. This can be a feeling of being helpless, or a feeling of having no control over yourself or your environment.
Living in a state of traumatic stress can occur when someone feels constantly under threat, for example being exposed to an environment of bullying or abuse. It can also happen when someone is constantly exposed to shocking or frightening images or situations, such as seeing horrific images on the news, or being exposed to parents or others fighting.
Recognizing that people react differently to stress and trauma can help normalise what you feel. There is no right or wrong way to think or feel following or during something traumatic. However here are a few ideas that can help recovery.
First of all don’t minimize your experience or try to ignore what you’re feeling. Even though you may believe it’ll feel better to avoid difficult emotions they are still there. Remember you are bigger than the feeling. It will pass eventually.
Don’t try to force any healing. Instead be patient and compassionate with yourself. Learn to manage difficult feelings without feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
Challenge the feeling of helplessness by finding a cause that’s important to you and do some voluntary work. This can also help you to connect with others.
Physical exercise can help also help reduce stress and anxiety, particularly if playing team sports this too can help you to connect with others.
Normally the feelings associated with trauma pass over a few weeks. If they don’t, if the traumatic stress reaction is so intense that it persists it may get in the way of your normal ability to function. Talking to a counsellor or psychotherapist can help you to make sense of your experiences. Together you can work on ways to reduce stress and anxiety and improve ways to manage difficult thoughts and feelings.
This article was written by sentientcounselling