It can happen in a moment - the world changes because something horrible has happened. This past week this has become a reality for hundreds of people with the increase of violence in our world. My heart goes out to everyone who has experienced a tragedy, whether it was due to a shooting, a loss of a loved one or another horrible tragedy.
Tragedies leave our brain in chaos as we try to sort out the pain while trying to understand what happened. During the initial aftermath of a trauma, it is important to implement some healthy practices so that you can minimize the effects and reduce the likelihood of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Connect with others.
Safety and security come from the personal relationship with other people. When tragedy hits, it is important to connect to loved ones and people who you feel supported by as well as people you support. It is also important to connect with the larger community that you are a part of, like a church, synagogue, club, or other organization that is addressing the situation and processing it.
Trauma disrupts normal life by affecting identity, thoughts, finances, and relationships, etc. So, make sure that you are taking control of the things that you can control, like your schedule, and even your connecting to others.
Learn relaxation techniques.
It is easier to turn to coping methods that can hurt like alcohol, drugs, overeating, impulsive sex, etc. Instead, learn and practice proven relaxation techniques, like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, prayer, meditation and exercise.
Grow your spiritual life.
When chaos comes, it is important to connect to things transcend day to day life. Research has shown that spiritual beliefs and a meaningful relationship with a higher power are advantageous to our health and well-being. Faith overcomes fear.
Anxiety is a natural part of life that keeps us safe, therefore it is ok to have some fear. If you feel anxious, allow yourself to feel it. It will only be uncomfortable for a little while, then it will pass. The more you fight it, the worse it will be, so give yourself permission to feel a little fear.
Get professional help.
If the fear and anxiety related to trauma can become unmanageable by yourself and it interferes with your ability to function. When this happens, it is important to get help from a professional who works with trauma and can help you heal.
Trish Pauls, MA RP