When trauma occurs, it is rarely anticipated. Living with the aftermath can be just as difficult as the initial experience. Most of us recognize what major traumatic events look like, for example experiencing a natural disaster, fire, car accident, assault or robbery or childhood abuse, but we may not be aware of some of the more subtle events that can also be traumatizing. These include the loss of a loved one, being a witness to violence, personal illness or going through a divorce. Common symptoms that arise after experiencing a trauma may be stress, depression and anxiety, trouble sleeping, fears, being irritable, having relationship problems and not caring anymore. So what can you do about it? Here are 5 suggestions:
1. Learn from your past- Ask yourself: Where there any red flags that I should have seen that I can avoid in the future? Did I know any better at the time? Can I forgive myself for any undue blame on myself?
2. Credit yourself- Ask yourself: What did I handle well of partially well? How have I handled similar situations in the past? What can I give myself credit for already doing?
3. Use positive coping skills to handle stress-What support system do you have like friends, family, and doctors? What activities do you engage in to keep you going? What gives you enjoyment? (Hot baths, running, computer surfing, playing with your dog) Remember even positive coping can be done to excess and be detrimental (sleeping, eating, risk taking).
4. Get it all out- Find a way to express the feelings. Don’t keep them bottled up. Ways to express feelings include art, scrapbooking, crocheting, photography, physical sports or thrill sports, running, journaling, story writing, drama and volunteering.
5. Seek professional support- Even if it is only for a short time period. A neutral party can give you fresh perspective and help you solve your own problems.