Safety and security is something that we crave from birth, so when a traumatic event shatters that shelter it can feel as though our whole world has been tipped off of its axis. There are emotional, psychological and physical symptoms that you may suffer from in varying degrees.
Emotional & Psychological symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected or numb
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing heartbeat
- Edginess and agitation
- Aches and pains
- Muscle tension
Luckily, regardless of the type of trauma that you have endured, there are tools that you can implement to start the healing process. Although everyone’s road back to a feeling of safety and security can vary in time and difficulty, all you can do is take it one day at a time and make a conscious decision to work toward forward progress. Below are some ways to maintain positive mental health.
- Getting professional help if you need it: Talking to a professional who is trained in coping with trauma can provide you with important tools to aid in recovery, as well as give you an outlet to express your feelings.
- Connecting with others: While you may feel like isolating yourself from the rest of the world, maintaining your relationships during this time is crucial. Face to face interaction with loved ones will help restore your sense of security.
- Staying positive: Be mindful everyday of recognizing your blessings and being thankful for the positive things in your life.
- Getting physically active: Trauma can leave your body in a state of hyperarousal and fear. Getting to the gym and exercising helps your body to burn off adrenaline and produce endorphins, helping your nervous system to become “unstuck”.
- Helping others: Trauma is often accompanied by a feeling of helplessness. Volunteering or helping others is a great way to restore your sense of control and spread positivity in a world that feels full of hate.
- Getting enough sleep: Disruption in sleep patterns due to nightmares or worry is very common in trauma survivors. However, lack of sleep can exacerbate trauma symptoms and lead to emotional distress. Try to maintain a sleep schedule and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Developing coping skills: Whether it is joining a support group, practicing yoga, focusing on nutrition, etc. explore and find the tools that work for you. Remember that everyone is different and your road to recovery from a traumatic event is your own.
Trauma symptoms vary in intensity and duration. They typically last from a few days to a few months, but gradually fade as you are able to process the event and emotions that you felt during that time. Triggers, such as an anniversary or a specific sound, may cause the feelings of fear and panic to resurface but that is normal. Returning to your coping mechanisms and time will help heal the emotional wounds, although the scars may always remain as a reminder of your strength and perseverance.
“Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.” (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm)