Helpful Strategies for Trauma Victims/Survivors

Posted on October 23, 2013, in Grief and Trauma
  • It is very important for your recovery to get enough rest, especially the first 4 - 6 weeks following the trauma.
  • If you cannot sleep at night, take 15 - 30 minute catnaps during the day.
  • If you wake up during the night because of traumatic dreams know this will pass in time. Do what comforts you. Read a good book until you become sleepy again. Snack, watch television, listen to music, write, do some housework. Remember, this will be a temporary change.
  • Exercise of some kind is important to help relieve the tension that a traumatic experience creates. Even if you do not have a regular exercise routine, go for a short walk, walk the dog an extra time, or do housework. If you do exercise regularly add a few minutes to your routine.
  • Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, as they can stimulate your already over-aroused brain and can intensify your emotions. Do not self-medicate. NOTE: If you are having difficulty relaxing or sleeping following the trauma, then call for a prescription to help you sleep temporarily, but if this persists beyond 4-6 weeks consult with a trauma specialist immediately.
  • Do not take on commitments or additional responsibilities for the first four weeks. The tendency for some is to take on additional responsibilities thinking it will help them forget. In reality, it frequently drains them of energy, delays the healing process and intensifies future reactions when they finally emerge.
  • Be protective and nurture yourself. It’s okay to want to be by yourself, or just stay around home with the family. Eat whatever comfort foods you like, as frequently as you need to. Let family, friends know that they can best help you by taking care of themselves over the next several days while you do what helps you feel a bit better.
  • During the 4 - 6 weeks following the event expect new memories and reactions to emerge. This does not mean things are getting worse. It takes time to heal.
  • Understand that your trauma reactions need to be expressed and experienced by you in order for you to heal. Kids, for example, go to the same horror movie, like Nightmare On Elm Street, four, five, six times, so they can master their fear, the terror they experience when seeing the movie for the first time.
  • If any trauma reaction continues beyond six to eight weeks from when the trauma occurred, you really do need to talk with a trauma specialist. If you do not, such reactions can become chronic as well as create additional problems for you.
  • We all have different reactions. What scares you may not scare someone else. If you are still experiencing reactions after the six week period, it does not mean something is terribly wrong with you. It means your past experiences are such that you just don’t know how to respond to what happened. Generally, talking to a trauma specialist a few times will resolve the problem.
  • A traumatic experience can terrorize even the strongest and healthiest. It can induce such terror that your life becomes disorganized or disoriented. You may act in ways you have never acted before. Don't panic!
  • Trauma is not an experience you should keep to yourself. It is an experience that should be resolved as quickly as possible. Do not hesitate to consult with a trauma specialist when your reactions are overwhelming or interfere with normal functioning. The specialist can help you sort out which reactions are normal and can help you prepare for possible future reactions.
  • Traumatic experiences tend to change the way people look at their life, behaviors, activities, relationships and future. In the weeks to come expect to see the world differently; your friends, loved ones, and work relationships. In time, you will redefine what you want for yourself.
  • Therefore, the first 4 - 6 weeks is not a time to make major decisions. Put what you can on hold. During recovery from a trauma everything is a bit distorted. Whenever possible wait to deal with major decisions until after you have had time (4 - 6 weeks) to reorder your life and feel stable once again.
  • Should you need further assistance call The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children at 877-306-5256.

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