A traumatic event can be an intensely personal experience, such as the loss of a loved one. It can also be something that happens on a much larger scale, such as a natural disaster. While these two types of events are very different, survivors of any tragedy are able to use some of the same coping techniques to get through a difficult time.
Regulate Feelings and Reactions
Intense feelings of sadness, rage, or other emotions are perfectly normal after suffering a traumatic event. It is important, however, to maintain some control and keep emotions and behavior from running rampant. Maintaining a normal routine and avoiding excessive media exposure during a tragedy can help reduce stress, allowing survivors to keep their emotions from spiraling out of control.
It Takes Time to Heal
Recovering from trauma takes time. The same emotions may be dealt with only to return again multiple times, sometimes causing a survivor to feel like they are on an emotional Ferris wheel.
This is completely normal, and understanding that healing is not a linear process can go a long way towards helping reduce feelings of exhaustion and depression while coping with a loss or other traumatic event.
Some Days Are Better Than Others
Like anyone, a trauma survivor will have both good and bad days. Sometimes a good day can be the result of truly joyous experiences, such as a promotion at work or the birth of a child, while other times the beautiful weather and a perfect cup of tea might be enough to spark happiness. Bad days are much the same and can be exacerbated by experiences both small and large.
Taking solace in the good days and working through the bad is part of the healing process. Embracing the good days and sharing them with others can help remind survivors why they are fighting so hard to heal in the first place.
Practice Coping Skills
Effectively using coping skills requires practice, just like speaking a second language. Self-care, setting boundaries, practicing proper sleep hygiene, and other coping skills are often not instinctive and can sometimes require a laser-like focus to keep from drifting into unhealthy behaviors. Some of these skills are very simple; there are even ways to regulate breathing that can help reduce stress and anxiety, but the time to learn these skills is not in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Researching a variety of coping mechanisms and figuring out which are the most effective is a good first step. Scheduling time to practice these skills is vitally important, which means training until these skills become second nature. Practicing these coping mechanisms can reduce stress and make healing after a traumatic event much less difficult.