Trauma is caused by overwhelmingly negative events like terrorism, war, transport accidents, natural disasters, domestic violence, criminal activities, and childhood neglect and abuse. Exposure to any of the events we have just mentioned can lead to lasting psychological and physiological effects.
Effects of trauma
When you experience a traumatic event or series of events, psychological symptoms that center around an intrusion of the past event into the present event can develop.
Common symptoms that occur include nightmares or flashbacks and symptoms like strong emotions associated with the traumatic event, painful memories, and use of self-protective techniques that helped during the time of the event.
There are many other effects of trauma that vary from person to person depending on the age and development of the affected person when he or she was exposed to the traumatic event, type of trauma, and severity and frequency of the exposure. Even though the effects of trauma vary, all people respond in a similar way to trauma.
Avoidance is a common coping strategy used to cope with trauma. Although it is natural to avoid the people, memories, places, and situations associated with traumatic events, using avoidance can keep you stuck in trauma.
The best way to cope with the trauma is to process and understand it. Despite the fact that trying a self-guided approach is possible, it is better to look for a trusted professional who has experience treating trauma.
Seeking help by deciding to talk to someone about a traumatic experience can be frightening and overwhelming. It can make you worry about how you will cope with the trauma after the appointment has re-lived the trauma. This is something that most people worry about.
It is a good idea to develop some coping strategies to use when you feel triggered. Here are helpful strategies to consider:
Create a safe space
A safe space can be a physical place where you go or an imaginary place you create in your mind, a place where you feel like you are safe. If it is a real place, then put things that provide comfort including a warm blanket, a scented candle, and happy photos and so on. On the other hand, if it is an imaginary place, imagine those things that make you feel safe. It is good that you choose a place that is easy to access.
Grounding strategies can be anything that works for you including relaxation breathing, meditation, visual imagery, mindfulness or yoga. Choose activities where you focus on your 5 common senses, things that you can hear, see, touch, smell, and taste as they encourage you to stay in the present moment.
Develop secure relationships
The best thing about having secure, trusting relationships is that they can help you feel safe. Such a relationship can also be a source of comfort. You can have secure, trusting relationships with your parent, friend, partner, psychologist or a mental health professional.
Learning as much as you can about responses to trauma and why trauma occurs will help you understand why you may react in a certain way or why you respond in a certain way to things in your life.
Understanding why you respond in certain ways enables you to have more compassion for yourself and your experience. Remember that the way you respond is fully understandable considering the experience you have gone through.