Post Trauma Recovery Pt:2
I have often heard the question why do bad things happen to good people? As a matter of fact, I would have asked this question time and time again. Life is filled with so many difficult situations to process and understand; sometimes it feels like the trauma and pain is literally suffocating but even when we feel like simply giving up, there is that little resilient voice within us that tells us to keep pushing, keep fighting; cry if you must, stop if you must, but never give up.
Trauma refers to an event that threatens the life or integrity of the individual or a loved one, such as physical abuse, death of a loved one, witnessing/experiencing domestic violence, abandonment, natural disasters, war, community violence, or medical issues. Coming out of a traumatic event, a person experiences high levels of emotional, psychological, and physical distress that temporarily disrupts their ability to function normally in day-to-day life. Physical reactions to trauma
Traumatic experiences can result in physical reactions including:
- fatigue or exhaustion
- disturbed sleep
- nausea, vomiting and dizziness
- excessive sweating
- increased heart rate.
Behavioral reactions to trauma
Common behavioral reactions to trauma include:
- avoiding reminders of the event
- inability to stop focusing on what occurred
- getting immersed in recovery-related tasks
- losing touch with normal daily routines
- changed appetite, such as eating a lot more or a lot less
- turning to substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and coffee
- sleeping problems.
Making sense of the traumatic event
Once the distressing event is over, you may find yourself trying to make sense of the event. This can include thinking about:
- how and why it happened
- how and why you were involved
- why you feel the way you do
- whether feelings you now have reflect on what kind of person you are
- whether the experience has changed your view on life, and how.
Helping resolve traumatic reactions to trauma
There are a number of strategies that can be put in place to help a person resolve traumatic reactions.
Some common well identified examples include:
- Recognize that you have been through a distressing or frightening experience and that you will have a reaction to it.
- Accept that you will not feel your normal self for a period of time, but that it will also eventually pass.
- Remind yourself daily that you are managing – try not to get angry or frustrated with yourself if you are not able to do things as well or efficiently as normal.
- Don’t overuse alcohol or drugs to help you cope.
- Avoid making major decisions or big life changes until you feel better.
- Gradually confront what has happened – don’t try to block it out.
- Don’t bottle up your feelings – talk to someone who can support and understand you.
- Try to keep to your normal routine and stay busy.
- Don’t go out of your way to avoid certain places or activities. Don’t let the trauma confine your life, but take your time to get back to normal.
- When you feel exhausted, make sure you set aside time to rest.
- Make time for regular exercise – it helps cleanse your body and mind of tension.
- Help your family and friends to help you by telling them what you need, such as time out or someone to talk to.
- Relax – use relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing or meditation, or do things you enjoy, such as listening to music or gardening.
- Express your feelings as they arise – talk to someone about your feelings or write them down.
- When the trauma brings up memories or feelings, try to confront them. Think about them, then put them aside. If it brings up other past memories, try to keep them separate from the current problem and deal with them separately.
Healing and recovery process after trauma
Any event that places a person’s own life or the lives of others at risk results in the human body going into a state of heightened arousal. This is like an ‘emergency mode’ that involves a series of internal alarms being turned on. Emergency mode gives people the capacity to access a lot of energy in a short period of time to maximize the chance of survival.
Most people only stay in emergency mode for a short period of time or until the immediate threat has passed. However, being in emergency mode uses up vital energy supplies and this is why people often feel quite tired afterwards.
The normal healing and recovery process involves the body coming down out of a state of heightened arousal. In other words, the internal alarms turn off, the high levels of energy subside, and the body re-sets itself to a normal state of balance and equilibrium. Typically, this should occur within approximately one month of the event.