After a Traumatic Event: How to Help Yourself

Posted Oct 12, 2016

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Summary

  • Find a support group.
  • Re-establish routines.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Practice self-care.

Most people like to be in control of their lives. Many people make plans. They feel prepared for the future. They are secure in the present. When something like a natural disaster or traumatic event wrecks their plans, it can take a while to feel safe and secure again.

There are steps people can take to build resiliency and regain control.

1. Find support.

When a random traumatic event occurs, people may want to turn to their friends and family for support. If your community has been affected, you may need to look elsewhere. Meeting with others in a support group is helpful. Make sure it is led by a trained and experienced counselor. Don’t isolate yourself.

Even if you were not directly affected, it’s important to protect yourself against “vicarious trauma,” or “secondary traumatic stress.” Those are terms for secondhand exposure to others’ pain and misfortune.   When a community is affected, the scary information can seem to bombard you. If this is your situation, look into support groups for “families of” or “friends of” people who have gone through trauma. Talk with a friend outside of the situation.

Take advantage of any resources like on-the-spot counseling. Look for the people who are helping in this situation. You may need to take advantage of resources that you haven’t used before. Social services and aid are there to help. Everyone needs help at some point. Sometimes you will be the helper and, sometimes, the receiver. Both are normal.

Even if you are hurting emotionally or financially from the event, it may make you feel better to give back. Donate time, effort, or money if you can. Don’t overextend yourself. There will be times to give back later. You can do something; it doesn’t have to be everything.

2. Re-establish your routine.

Get back into your routine as soon as possible. It may be impossible to have the exact routine as before. Get back to work in some capacity. Recreate another home, if needed. Keep small things the same. Can you still have mealtimes at the same time? Exercise? Go out for coffee?

3. Educate and prepare yourself.

Do some research. Look into how often these types of events happen where you are. Figure out what aspects of your life you can control at the moment. This is not the time to make major life decisions. Instead develop emergency plans and safety kits.

4. Limit media.

Limit where you get news and the amount. Otherwise, you will feel buried in the same topic. Cut back on social media. Things might be posted that could trigger fear or anxiety.

5. Practice self-care.

Be gentle with yourself. Practice deep breathing when you feel anxious. List things you are grateful for to improve your outlook. Stay hydrated. Eat well. Get rest. Don’t push yourself. As long as you are getting stronger each day, you are making progress.

If feelings of helplessness, despair, or anxiety don’t ease, or if it is difficult to get through your day, consider seeing a mental health specialist.

Resources

American Red Cross. “Family Preparedness Made Easy,” www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/preparedness.

American Psychological Association. “Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror,” www.apa.org/helpcenter/terror-exposure.aspx.

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Elizabeth M. Johnson, MA, Health Educator, Outside the Mom Box; American Psychology Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx
Reviewed by Carolyn Meador, PhD, LMFT, CEAP, Director, Health and Performance Solutions, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Find a support group.
  • Re-establish routines.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Practice self-care.

Most people like to be in control of their lives. Many people make plans. They feel prepared for the future. They are secure in the present. When something like a natural disaster or traumatic event wrecks their plans, it can take a while to feel safe and secure again.

There are steps people can take to build resiliency and regain control.

1. Find support.

When a random traumatic event occurs, people may want to turn to their friends and family for support. If your community has been affected, you may need to look elsewhere. Meeting with others in a support group is helpful. Make sure it is led by a trained and experienced counselor. Don’t isolate yourself.

Even if you were not directly affected, it’s important to protect yourself against “vicarious trauma,” or “secondary traumatic stress.” Those are terms for secondhand exposure to others’ pain and misfortune.   When a community is affected, the scary information can seem to bombard you. If this is your situation, look into support groups for “families of” or “friends of” people who have gone through trauma. Talk with a friend outside of the situation.

Take advantage of any resources like on-the-spot counseling. Look for the people who are helping in this situation. You may need to take advantage of resources that you haven’t used before. Social services and aid are there to help. Everyone needs help at some point. Sometimes you will be the helper and, sometimes, the receiver. Both are normal.

Even if you are hurting emotionally or financially from the event, it may make you feel better to give back. Donate time, effort, or money if you can. Don’t overextend yourself. There will be times to give back later. You can do something; it doesn’t have to be everything.

2. Re-establish your routine.

Get back into your routine as soon as possible. It may be impossible to have the exact routine as before. Get back to work in some capacity. Recreate another home, if needed. Keep small things the same. Can you still have mealtimes at the same time? Exercise? Go out for coffee?

3. Educate and prepare yourself.

Do some research. Look into how often these types of events happen where you are. Figure out what aspects of your life you can control at the moment. This is not the time to make major life decisions. Instead develop emergency plans and safety kits.

4. Limit media.

Limit where you get news and the amount. Otherwise, you will feel buried in the same topic. Cut back on social media. Things might be posted that could trigger fear or anxiety.

5. Practice self-care.

Be gentle with yourself. Practice deep breathing when you feel anxious. List things you are grateful for to improve your outlook. Stay hydrated. Eat well. Get rest. Don’t push yourself. As long as you are getting stronger each day, you are making progress.

If feelings of helplessness, despair, or anxiety don’t ease, or if it is difficult to get through your day, consider seeing a mental health specialist.

Resources

American Red Cross. “Family Preparedness Made Easy,” www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/preparedness.

American Psychological Association. “Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror,” www.apa.org/helpcenter/terror-exposure.aspx.

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Elizabeth M. Johnson, MA, Health Educator, Outside the Mom Box; American Psychology Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx
Reviewed by Carolyn Meador, PhD, LMFT, CEAP, Director, Health and Performance Solutions, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Find a support group.
  • Re-establish routines.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Practice self-care.

Most people like to be in control of their lives. Many people make plans. They feel prepared for the future. They are secure in the present. When something like a natural disaster or traumatic event wrecks their plans, it can take a while to feel safe and secure again.

There are steps people can take to build resiliency and regain control.

1. Find support.

When a random traumatic event occurs, people may want to turn to their friends and family for support. If your community has been affected, you may need to look elsewhere. Meeting with others in a support group is helpful. Make sure it is led by a trained and experienced counselor. Don’t isolate yourself.

Even if you were not directly affected, it’s important to protect yourself against “vicarious trauma,” or “secondary traumatic stress.” Those are terms for secondhand exposure to others’ pain and misfortune.   When a community is affected, the scary information can seem to bombard you. If this is your situation, look into support groups for “families of” or “friends of” people who have gone through trauma. Talk with a friend outside of the situation.

Take advantage of any resources like on-the-spot counseling. Look for the people who are helping in this situation. You may need to take advantage of resources that you haven’t used before. Social services and aid are there to help. Everyone needs help at some point. Sometimes you will be the helper and, sometimes, the receiver. Both are normal.

Even if you are hurting emotionally or financially from the event, it may make you feel better to give back. Donate time, effort, or money if you can. Don’t overextend yourself. There will be times to give back later. You can do something; it doesn’t have to be everything.

2. Re-establish your routine.

Get back into your routine as soon as possible. It may be impossible to have the exact routine as before. Get back to work in some capacity. Recreate another home, if needed. Keep small things the same. Can you still have mealtimes at the same time? Exercise? Go out for coffee?

3. Educate and prepare yourself.

Do some research. Look into how often these types of events happen where you are. Figure out what aspects of your life you can control at the moment. This is not the time to make major life decisions. Instead develop emergency plans and safety kits.

4. Limit media.

Limit where you get news and the amount. Otherwise, you will feel buried in the same topic. Cut back on social media. Things might be posted that could trigger fear or anxiety.

5. Practice self-care.

Be gentle with yourself. Practice deep breathing when you feel anxious. List things you are grateful for to improve your outlook. Stay hydrated. Eat well. Get rest. Don’t push yourself. As long as you are getting stronger each day, you are making progress.

If feelings of helplessness, despair, or anxiety don’t ease, or if it is difficult to get through your day, consider seeing a mental health specialist.

Resources

American Red Cross. “Family Preparedness Made Easy,” www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/preparedness.

American Psychological Association. “Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror,” www.apa.org/helpcenter/terror-exposure.aspx.

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Elizabeth M. Johnson, MA, Health Educator, Outside the Mom Box; American Psychology Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx
Reviewed by Carolyn Meador, PhD, LMFT, CEAP, Director, Health and Performance Solutions, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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