Dealing with Trauma - Recovery and Self-Care

Words of love, hope and healing written on an outdoor garage door

Going through a traumatic experience or facing a highly stressful situation can take a toll on one’s health – mentally, physically and spiritually. You may feel helpless, shocked or even numb. Here are suggestions that Baptist Health Care and Lakeview Center recommend to help you toward recovery and self-care.

Don’t Isolate Yourself
After a traumatic event, open the lines of communication as soon as possible. Reach out to family, friends and loved ones. They may be experiencing the same grief or fears as you are. Talk with them, and be open about your feelings. This is an important part of the recovery process. 

Seek Professional Help
The stress that comes with a traumatic event can be overwhelming. Sadness, anger, fear and even depression can take hold. If your feelings begin to interfere with your life, find a local mental health expert who can help.  Call Lakeview Center at 850.469.3500. In addition, many employers offer an employee assistance provider (EAP), a confidential and free assessment resource that provides short-term counseling, referrals and follow up services to employees who have personal and work-related problems. Check with your organization to see who that may be.

Join a Support Group
Talking with others regularly through a support group can help after a traumatic experience. You may find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Support groups can be uplifting and healing for people dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. Your doctor or a mental health expert can refer you to resources and local support groups that can help.

Journal Your Feelings
Take note of how you are feeling after a stressful event or series of events. Write or type your emotions and concerns. The simple act of writing down how you are doing can be a coping mechanism to relieve stress. Notice if you see any patterns. Does anxiety or panic seem to occur at a certain time of the day or in a certain place? Knowing the similarities of concern can help you understand them and find ways to cope in the future.

Exercise to Relieve Tension
Move your body to help move your mind a bit after a traumatic event. Go for a short walk. Do some stretching and deep breathing. Mental health professionals say exercise is one of the most effective ways to handle the aftereffects of a stressful time. If you feel like kicking or punching, try a kickboxing workout that will allow you to do this in a safe manner. Swimming can be a calming way to relieve the mind and get you moving in a gentler way. If you’re feeling tired though, be sure to rest.  Listen to your body and follow the cues to give it what it needs.

Focus on What You Can Do
Max Lucado, an American author and pastor said, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” Make a short list of things you can accomplish, and cross items off that list as you can. Think about the small things you can do to help others. By giving your time and attention to others, you can make a positive difference.  A few things you can consider include:  Donate goods or time to a charity organization; make cards or write letters to a local organization who needs them, such as the military or overseas troops; spend time with children who can make you smile or even laugh; visit with pets who can cuddle and make you feel good; look for community resources for ways you can get involved for a greater cause. 

Give yourself time. Do what makes you feel good. Work on getting back to a routine that will help you gain a sense of control and normalcy in your life. Celebrate the positive things and those who have helped you to remember that good is still all around you. Strengthen bonds with those you love and your community.