Last Updated on November 13, 2021 by Chrisantus Oden
Best Ways to Deal With Traumatic Events and Stress
Following a traumatic occurrence, such as a traffic accident, plane crash, violent crime, terror attack, a worldwide epidemic, or a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, or flood, it’s typical to suffer traumatic stress. You might experience great shock, perplexity, and dread, or you might feel numb or overwhelmed by a slew of opposing emotions, all at once.
These feelings aren’t confined to those who witnessed the occurrence. We are all assaulted with awful images of disaster, pain, and loss nearly as soon as they occur anywhere in the world, thanks to round-the-clock news and social media coverage. Repeated exposure might tax your nervous system and lead to traumatic stress.
Traumatic stress can destroy your sense of security, leaving you feeling helpless and unprotected in a hazardous environment, especially if the incident was caused by people factors, such as a shooting or terrorist attack. You may be physically and emotionally exhausted, be filled with grief, or have trouble concentrating, sleeping, or controlling your temper. All of these are normal reactions to unusual occurrences.
As life stabilizes in the days following a tragic event or crisis, the uncomfortable thoughts and sensations of psychological trauma, as well as any uncomfortable related symptoms, often fade. But there’s a lot you can do to help yourself recover and come to grips with the trauma you’ve gone through. There are many strategies to relax your mind and achieve emotional equilibrium, whether you experienced the event, witnessed it, were an emergency responder or medical worker or suffered psychological trauma in the aftermath.
Clinical manifestations of traumatic stress
Whether or not you were personally affected by the horrific event, it’s natural to be worried, terrified, and unsure about the future. Stress has overburdened your neural system, resulting in a slew of strong emotions and physical responses. These traumatic stress symptoms can range from moderate to severe, and they tend to come and go in waves. You may have periods of feeling jittery and agitated, as well as periods of feeling disconnected and numb.
So to easily recognize when you are experiencing traumatic stress and know when to call your doctor, we have compiled this list of signs and symptoms to look out for;
- Shock and disbelief: You are unable to grasp the reality of what has occurred, or you feel numb and detached from your emotions.
- Fear: You are afraid that the same event will happen again, or that you’ll lose control or collapse.
- Sadness or grief, especially if someone you know has died or have had life-changing events happen to them.
- Helplessness- The abrupt, unpredictability of violent crime, accidents, pandemics, or natural disasters can make you feel vulnerable and helpless, and can even provoke anxiety or despair.
- Anger- You may be irritated with God, governments, or people you believe are to blame, or you may be susceptible to emotional tantrums.
Other symptoms include dizziness or faintness, stomach-churning, extreme perspiration, trembling, cold sweats, feeling choked up, fast breathing, pounding heart, even chest pains or difficulty breathing, inability to rest or stop pacing. You may also experience difficulties concentrating, memory problems, or disorientation, as well as changes in your sleeping patterns, appetite loss or gain, and heavy alcohol ingestion, nicotine, or drug use.
The distinction between traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Although the characteristics of traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to be quite similar just after a tragedy or upsetting incident, they develop in completely distinct ways. As unpleasant as traumatic stress symptoms can be, they tend to improve over time, especially if you take steps to look after your mental well-being.
If your traumatic stress symptoms persist and your nervous system remains “stuck” on the incident for an extended length of time, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
You are in a state of psychological shock if you have PTSD. The symptoms don’t get better with time, and you don’t feel any better.
It is worthy of mention that people cope with trauma or stress in different ways and so you should know there are no right or wrong ways to feel. Here are some tips on how to cope effectively with stress or trauma following a disastrous event.
Reduce your media exposure as much as possible
While some survivors or witnesses of catastrophic events believe that viewing media coverage of the tragedy or observing the recovery effort helps them regain control, others find that the reminders are distressing. Excessive exposure to images of a horrific incident, such as watching video snippets on social media or news sites frequently, can trigger traumatic stress in persons who were not directly touched by the event, or retraumatize those who were.
Accept your emotions
Traumatic stress can make you feel a variety of difficult and unexpected feelings, such as astonishment, wrath, and guilt. These are natural responses to the loss of safety and security, along with life, body, and possessions that follows a disaster. Healing requires accepting these sensations and allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
Attempt to overcome your sense of helplessness
Taking action is often the key to overcoming traumatic stress. Positive action can assist you in overcoming feelings of fear, helplessness, and despair, and even tiny activities can have a significant impact.
Donate blood, volunteer your time, donate to a particular organization, or console others. If formal volunteer work seems like too much of a commitment, keep in mind that merely being helpful and kind to others can provide stress relief and challenge your feeling of powerlessness. Help a neighbor with their groceries, hold a door open for someone you don’t know, and smile at the people you meet throughout the day.
Engage your body and mind
Exercise would be the last thing on your mind while you’re dealing with traumatic stress, but this can help you relieve stress by burning off adrenaline and releasing feel-good hormones. Physical activity done deliberately can also help you move on from the traumatic event by rousing your mind from its “stuck” state.
Don’t isolate yourself
After a traumatizing occurrence, you may be tempted to isolate yourself from friends and social activities, but face-to-face contact with others is essential for recovery. The mere act of conversing with another human can release hormones that help to reduce traumatic stress.
You are not obligated to discuss your traumatic experiences and reaching out to people does not always include discussing the terrible incident. Do it for the fun of feeling connected and being involved with people you trust which gives you a sense of security. With friends and loved ones, talk about and do “regular” things that have nothing to do with the event that sparked your traumatic stress.
Make stress management a top priority
While some stress is acceptable and even beneficial while dealing with the problems that arise in the aftermath of a disaster or sad event, too much stress will obstruct recovery. Last several breaths and concentrate your energy on each expiration to relieve stress levels and rapidly relax in any setting.
Eat healthily and get plenty of rest
Your mood can be improved or worsened by what you eat, and your capacity to deal with traumatic stress can be influenced by what you eat. Processed and convenience foods, refined carbs, and sugary snacks can exacerbate traumatic stress symptoms. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and essential fats, on the other hand, will help you cope better with the ups and downs that come with a sad event.
You may build an eating plan that not only helps to relieve traumatic stress but also enhances your energy, perspective, and a general sense of well-being by substituting manufactured food with real food as close to its natural form as possible.