- Stay social you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
- Ask for, or find support. It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman.
- Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect with those that are safe.
- Join a support group for trauma survivors. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you.
- Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by comforting or helping others.
In order to stay grounded after a trauma, it helps to have a structured schedule to follow.
- Stick to an easily achieved daily routine, with regular times for waking, sleeping, eating, working, and exercise. Make sure to schedule time for relaxing and social activities, too.
- Break large jobs into smaller, manageable tasks. Take pleasure from the accomplishment of achieving something, even if it’s one small thing a day.
- Find activities that make you feel better and keep your mind occupied (reading, taking a class, cooking, playing with your kids or pets), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to focusing on the traumatic experience.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. Accepting your feelings is part of the grieving process and is necessary for healing.
Take Care Of Your Health
A healthy body increases your ability to cope with stress from a trauma.
- Get plenty of sleep. After a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. A lack of sleep can make your trauma symptoms worse and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs as their use can worsen your trauma symptoms and exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. It also boosts self-esteem and helps to improve sleep. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats—such as salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds—can give your mood a boost.
- Reduce stress. Making time for rest and relaxation will help you bring your life back into balance. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy—favorite hobbies or activities with your favourite friends, for example.
Staying grounded: A trauma self-help exercise
If you are feeling disoriented are floating, confused, or upset, you can do the following exercise:
- Sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground. Press on your thighs. Feel your behind on the seat and your back against the chair.
- Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue. This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded, and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer.
- You may want to go outdoors and find a peaceful place to sit on the grass. As you do, feel how your body can be held and supported by the ground.