One of the joys of life is its unpredictability, but sometimes this unpredictability can knock us off our feet in the worst way. Traumatic events, experiences, or periods in our lives can occur at any time from a serious illness, losing a loved one, suffering an injury, abuse, crime, or even losing our job.
While everyone’s recovery from trauma is likely to be different in terms of coping methods, duration and the long-term effects, there are some key ways to get your life back on track and pick yourself up after a trauma. The sooner you can regain some sense of your former self, the sooner you can take control of your future.
1. Stay connected to your support network
A traumatic experience can cause us to feel isolated in the world and can affect our ability to trust the world around us. While you may feel that retreating into yourself is the safest place and will prevent others from being ‘contaminated’ or burdened by your problems, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stay in touch with the people you trust and try to see people in person rather than relying on email or your telephone. Personal interactions, eye contact, physical affection, and reassurance will lower your stress hormones and give you more opportunity for positive experiences, which can help you to keep your head above water emotionally.
2. Seek out positivity
Positive emotions, activities, and experiences will be a big part if your recovery as you attempt to overcome the trauma and negativity. Surround yourself with positive influences and try to stay in the moment without dwelling on what you’ve been through. This could be as simple as watching a funny film with a friend or taking a walk with your partner or could be through trying a new hobby. When you are alone, try to practise mindfulness and meditation, which can help to block out negative thinking.
3. Get the right practical support
When it comes to the practical aspects of life, such as being unable to work or care for your family, you should ensure you ask for help when you need it. Friends and family will be more than likely to jump at the chance to be able to support you even if it’s just by running errands to take some pressure off. If you have suffered an injury which has made you physically unable to perform daily tasks and has affected your earnings, consider contacting personal injury solicitors Nottingham to find out if you could apply for compensation.
4. Talk about your feelings
While dwelling in negativity is not a healthy approach, you should express your feelings about what has happened to you. Sometimes this can be difficult to do if we are facing feelings of shame, anger, loss, or guilt – but keeping these emotions inside will only intensify them. You may feel able to do this with a close friend or a family member, but a professional mental health counsellor who is experienced in post-trauma therapy will be best placed to help you.
5. Get back into a routine
It’s often best to get back into a routine which closely resembles your previous life as soon as you’re able to. This will help you to create new positive memories and give you a sense of purpose in your daily life. Of course, if you’re recovering from physical trauma, you may need to work with new limitations.
6. Be kind to yourself
Don’t expect yourself to spring back into action after a traumatic event overnight. Every experience we go through affects us as people, whether positively or negatively. There is no use comparing your rate of recovery with others or with feeling a pressure to ‘get better’ in a specific period. Your inner strength will see you through; you simply need to uncover it through facing fears, challenging your inner critic, and getting to know yourself again.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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