Helpful Tips for Coping With Trauma
Everybody experiences trauma differently, so it stands to reason that everybody has a recovery method. Some trial and error may be required before landing on the best method for the person. However, some holistic methods have a history of helping those with trauma to cope.
According to HelpGuide.org, the following are some useful tips for overcoming trauma and psychological/emotional distress:
- Get at least 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise per day. This can include power walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. You can also play a competitive sport, such as basketball or tennis. The natural release of endorphins combined with the use of adrenaline will help your body reclaim a state akin to what it was before the trauma.
- Connect with others. After experiencing trauma, you may be overwhelmed by the instinct to shut yourself off, withdrawing from your relationships. This type of isolation will make the situation worse, so you need to make the effort to retain your relationships in addition to making new ones. Sometimes being around people who’ve gone through a similar experience is easier, so groups for trauma survivors are oftentimes an ideal choice for positive social interaction.
- Learn to self-regulate. Trauma can make you feel out of sorts and in a constant state of anxiety. Use tactics such as mindful breathing, and avoid situations that are too high in stimuli. Identify the things you know make you feel more at ease, and use them as needed. Some popular choices include music, certain smells, a pet, or a specific activity.
- Be mindful of your health. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep and exercise and that you’re sticking to a healthy diet. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and other forms of self-medicating; substance abuse only makes the situation worse. Instead, try activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to get centered.
Additionally, SAMHSA has a few other tips that those with trauma should implement to help retain peace of mind and stability.
- Avoid making any huge life-altering decisions. People who’ve undergone trauma may be in a fragile state. They should refrain from making major life changes, such as moving, changing careers, making sizable purchases, taking on a large debt, or starting a family. When dealing with trauma, keeping life as simple as possible is best.
- Maintain a routine. Most trauma is a nasty surprise in a person’s life. Maintaining a regular routine helps remove the element of surprise from daily life. A set routine tends to decrease anxiety.
- Limit consumption of news / social media. Rarely do the headlines of major publications have something positive to say. By limiting the amount of news you consume, you’re effectively removing that negativity from your daily equation. The same can be said for most social media channels.
When to Seek Professional Help for Overcoming Trauma
When handling trauma, many individuals have a hard time recognizing if their trauma is something they can overcome on their own or if they need to get professional help. Feeling inconsolable after trauma is completely normal. However, if months go by and the symptoms remain or you haven’t reclaimed your quality of life, this is usually an indicator that professional help is needed.
According to HelpGuide.org, you should seek help for trauma if any of the following applies to you:
- You’re having difficulty functioning at home, school, or work.
- You’re experiencing feelings of either fear, depression, or anxiety.
- You feel numb and disconnected from people.
- Your current relationships are suffering and/or you’re unable to form meaningful relationships.
- You’re experiencing flashbacks, memories, or nightmares that pertain to your trauma.
- You go out of your way to avoid the things that may potentially remind you of your trauma.
- You are self-medicating using drugs and/or alcohol.
Common Trauma Treatments
Numerous treatment options are available for those who’ve experienced trauma and who are experiencing either acute or chronic symptoms. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a person with PTSD or experiencing chronic symptoms relating to trauma should consider four types of therapy:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. Targets current problems and symptoms and focuses on changing the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to the patient feeling distressed or challenged in functioning.
- Cognitive processing therapy. Helps the patient learn how to modify and challenge unhelpful beliefs related to trauma.
- Cognitive therapy. Involves modifying the pessimistic perceptions and memories of trauma. The goal is to cease the behavioral and/or thought patterns that interfere in the patient’s daily life.
- Prolonged exposure. Teaches patients to approach trauma-related feelings, memories, feelings, and situations.
Resources for Overcoming Emotional or Psychological Trauma
Numerous trauma resources and organizations specialize in helping people overcome trauma. Below is a comprehensive list of resources for those who need help:
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453
- Crisis Support Services National Helpline: 800-273-8255
- RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
- SAMHSA National Helpline: 800-662-4357
- Teen Line: 800-852-8336
- Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255
- Be Red Cross Ready: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster, Red Cross
- Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Coping With Grief After Community Violence, Substance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministration
- Helping Teens With Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Helping Young Children With Traumatic Grief, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Talking to Children About the Shooting, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network