Some events in life are traumatic for everyone – the death of a loved one, a disaster that destroys their home – and other, smaller events can for many be equally traumatic. The loss of a job for example qualifies as a traumatic event as well, after all that is a life changing event as well. And the COVID-19 pandemic and all the changes and restrictions that have accompanied it have been stressful for almost all of us.
Although many people do try to live by the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra after any traumatic event in their life there is always stress that comes after such things and people can react in very different ways. Acknowledging and then learning how to handle stress is however a large part of anyone’s recovery from a traumatic experience.
Steps You Can Take Yourself to Handle Stress After Trauma
Everyone’s reaction to trauma is different and so is the stress level that people experience after the event is over. There are some basic, practical steps you can take to begin coping with the aftermath of the event and the stress that comes along with it:
Give Yourself Time
It is important that you give yourself time to adjust to the way that a traumatic event has affected your life. Trying to carry on like nothing has happened is never going to help you truly move forward.
Expect Wild Mood Swings
Most people find that after any traumatic event, even a seemingly small one, they experience quite violent mood swings, feeling happier and more positive at one moment and then sad and despairing the next. As disconcerting as this is, it’s also perfectly normal. Accepting that you are not going to ‘be yourself’ for a while is an important step in learning how to handle stress after a traumatic event.
Allow Yourself to Smile
Some people feel very guilty if they allow themselves even a moment’s happiness after an event like the death of a loved one. By finding something funny or just being able to raise a smile some people feel like they are disrespecting a lost person or are not taking what has happened to them seriously enough.
That is not a good attitude to take. Life has to go on and happiness is a part of life. Accepting anything that can still make you smile – and then doing so more often – is a good sign that you are on the road to recovery.
Avoid Crutches Like Alcohol and Drugs
The way some people try to ‘calm themselves’ after a traumatic event is to drown their sorrows with alcohol or change their state of mind with drugs. These things might make you feel a little better for a short time but the situation will not have changed once you ‘sober up’ and adding a new problem like drug or alcohol dependency (which can occur very quickly) to the problems you already have will only make a bad situation even worse.
Communicate Your Feelings
Rather than keep your feelings about the events that have adversely affected your life bottled up find a way to express them in a positive manner. In some circumstances if a traumatic event has affected the people close to you as well, you may have to look outside your usual circle of support though.
Joining a support group can be very helpful even if you can only find one that operates online and oddly enough talking to strangers about your problems can sometimes be easier than talking to your friends.
Do Not Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help
Some people can handle stress alone some cannot. It does not make you less of a person if you find that you cannot handle stress after a traumatic event. There is no shame in seeking professional help if you need it, that is what those people are there for and many people before you have chosen the same path.