What is a traumatic event?
A traumatic event is something that you experience or witness that causes extreme distress in the nervous system, mind, and body. It can result from a violent attack, ongoing mental or physical abuse, the sudden death of a loved one, or even a natural disaster. Despite the specific circumstances, trauma scars you emotionally and can become overwhelming. Traumatic events can be both directly and indirectly experienced. Directly experiencing an event means that you went through it personally or witnessed trauma firsthand. Indirectly experiencing traumatic events could involve hearing about something disturbing or seeing a loved one go through a devastating experience.
Trauma has no specific requirements other than the emotional distress that results. What you find traumatic may not affect another person on the same level, which is okay. Your experiences are your own and how they affect you emotionally is all that matters. Also, I want you to remember that your feelings are valid and you deserve to be comforted and heard.
How do I know I am being affected by trauma?
Traumatic stress can be the result of witnessing or experiencing trauma. This affects your ability to function in daily life and can leave lasting emotional scars. You may be experiencing flashbacks of the disturbing event, which are involuntary memories that cause you to relive the trauma repeatedly. Some flashbacks are so intense that you cannot tell what’s real and what is imagined. It is also common to experience difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and feelings of helplessness or extreme anxiety. I know from experience how distressful trauma can be.
If you are like me, I imagine you isolate yourself from others or shut down emotionally when your feelings become overwhelming. This is a normal response that your mind employs to avoid dealing with stressful emotions, but will never truly help you move past the trauma. Keep in mind, the longer you suppress your feelings, the more difficult the road to healing becomes.
How do I cope with trauma?
Coping with trauma can be an intimidating experience. I know that it can be daunting to face your trauma and let the hurt in. But in order to move forward, you must allow your mind and body to process your feelings. Below are some helpful tips to help you cope with your trauma.
- 1. Find a new routine: Trauma can wreak havoc on the life we once lived. To regain security and normalcy, it is essential to create a new routine and stick to it. Providing your mind and body with stability is vital to healing.
- 2. Exercise: Make it a point to get moving. Whether you jog through a park, take your dog on a walk, or do cardio at the gym, it is important to stay active. Exercise is proven to release “feel good” endorphins that improve mood and help to release tension in your body.
- 3. Practice creativity: Painting, coloring, or journaling are just a few of the ways you can keep your mind busy and your body relaxed. Art is a great stress reliever and mood enhancer.
- 4. Deep breathing: When all else fails, deep breathing exercises help to calm the nervous system and reduce stress. This is especially helpful in the moments when you feel triggered.
- 5. Seek professional help: I know what it feels like to be surrounded by fear and hurt and have no outlet. Healing is a battle that we often cannot fight alone. If you feel like you are drowning in your trauma and need support, you are not alone. Below are some ways you can contact the New Vision team.
If you are stuck in a nightmare of trauma that won’t seem to end, we have the help you need. Our team of highly trained trauma-informed therapists is available to help guide you toward healing. We will teach you techniques to help you cope with your trauma in the short and long term. At New Vision Counseling and Consulting, we understand how daunting it can be to reach out for help, so we focus on providing you with a safe and caring environment where you can feel comfortable telling us your story. Our therapists are waiting to hear from you! We can be reached by calling (405) 921-7776.