Coping with Trauma

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Health Assured team

07 February 2023

When people experience a traumatic event, it can have a major impact on their mental health. These events often cause stress and in severe cases can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an extremely common experience. In the UK, 1-in-10 people are expected to experience PTSD at some point in their life.

What is trauma?           

Trauma is the mental or emotional response to experiencing a distressing event. The events that cause these feelings can vary and affect each person differently. Examples of such events include: 

  • A single traumatic event (car accident, being assaulted) 
  • Witnessing an assault 
  • Sudden death of a loved one 
  • Natural disasters 
  • Hospitalization 

Each of these traumatic events can elicit a range of feelings or emotions. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms associated with trauma: 

  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event 
  • Intrusive thoughts 
  • Nightmares or night terrors 
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating 
  • Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression 

If left unmanaged, these symptoms will continue and worsen, significantly impacting the individual’s life. As a result, if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these problems, it is necessary to find ways to cope with and manage them. 


How to cope with trauma?

It’s important to know that the feelings and emotions you experience after trauma are natural. Any person who experiences a traumatic event is likely to feel negative emotions. In some cases, these emotions will subside after a few weeks. However, in more severe cases, the feelings may persist, so it’s important to find positive coping mechanisms to help you expedite your recovery process.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings

Acknowledging your feelings can often be the first step in dealing with them. Look out for any thoughts that provoke these negative emotions. Spotting these signals is the first step. When you become aware of these patterns of emotion, you’re more likely to catch them when they arise again.

  1. Stay connected

Opening up for the first time can be difficult. When talking to someone, it’s helpful to talk to someone you trust, someone who will listen with empathy and understanding. A friend or family member is a great place to start. Connection is vital to a healthy mental state. It’s a key component to a life of contentment and a healthy coping mechanism for trauma; sharing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions can help you process them and move forward.

  1. Practice self-care

Self-care can help protects against the mental and physical health problems associated with trauma. Self-care can help cultivate feelings of self-compassion and release tension in the body. It could involve exercising, eating a healthy meal or watching your favourite television show – this time offers a chance to relax and reconnect. These moments of self-care can help reduce the stress and anxiety often associated with trauma.

  1. Look after yourself

Prioritizing your physical health can help reduce the negative feelings associated with trauma. For example, regular exercise enhances the natural release of endorphins, which stimulate relaxation and improve your mood. These chemicals work by interacting with receptors in your brain to reduce the perceptions of pain, reduce stress and give feelings of wellbeing. Other healthy lifestyle choices include eating a balanced diet and practising mindfulness, which can help improve your overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Speak to a mental health professional

Dealing with trauma can be overwhelming. If you feel like the above methods are not working (and you feel ready to do so), you should consider talking to a mental health professional. Therapists can help you recognise where these negative thoughts come from and help you implement strategies to get past them. They can also help you understand the commonality of feelings associated with trauma. Remember, in the UK, 1-in-10 people (approximately 6.7 million people) experience PTSD. Sometimes, it’s good to know that you’re not alone.

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