Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Effective strategies for dealing with traumatic events

Traumatic experiences tend to be sudden and without warning. In many cases, there may be no evidence of any physical injury, but there has been a significant emotional injury inflicted upon the individual. It is common for individuals who have experienced a traumatic situation to also have a very strong emotional reaction to that event.

There are a number of steps that you can take to help restore your emotional well-being following a disaster. These include some of the following items:

Give yourself time to heal. Anticipate that the time period following a tragic event will be a difficult time in your life. Allow yourself the opportunity to mourn the losses that you have experienced. Attempt to be patient with yourself in regarding to your changing emotional states.

Ask for support from others around you. These people care about you and will listen and will empathize with your situation. Since some members of your support system may have been involved in the same situation, it may be necessary to reach out and connect with others especially those who may have shared the same stressful event. It is important to talk about the traumatic experience with others. Attempt to communicate your feelings in a means that is comfortable to you. Many people find it helpful to write about their experiences either for yourself or to share with others.

Explore the availability of local support groups for individuals who have suffered through natural disasters. Individuals who have been victims of crimes such as women who are victims of rape may find these groups helpful. It is always a good idea to find groups that can lead by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. A group process with individuals who have similar experiences and reactions can be extremely helpful to the group’s participants. The American Red Cross or the United Way can be a good resource for finding an appropriate group in your home community. Contacting your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be another good resource in your search for a group in your community.

Engage in healthy behaviors to increase your ability to cope with excessive stress in your life. Maintain a well balanced diet. Avoid the over use of stimulants like caffeine, sugar, nicotine. Attempt to get plenty of rest. If you experience problems getting to sleep, you may be able to obtain some relief by employing relaxation exercises. Helpful relaxation exercises include yoga, stretching, and massage. Engaging in an exercise regime at least three times a week is not only good for your overall health, but it will help release the tension and stress that builds up in your body. Your exercise regime can include such things as walking, jogging, bicycling, aerobics, or engaging in some type of individual or team sport. Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs.

Establish or reestablish routines in your life such as eating at regular times and following an exercise program. Take some time out of your day to get away from the demands of daily living by pursuing hobbies, or other enjoyable activities.

Avoid making major life decisions such as switching careers or job as these activities tend to be extremely stressful.

A number of people are able to cope effectively with the emotional and physical demands that are associated with a natural disaster or other traumatic experience by utilizing their own support system. However, if serious problems persist or they continue to interfere with your ability to function in your daily life, it may be necessary to consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to managers and employees who are having a difficult time coping with a trauma. This assistance is only a phone call away. This service is provided by Integrated Behavioral Health. This service is completely confidential and is available to you at no cost . A trained professional counselor can help you with your situation. Simply call 1-800-395-1616 anytime on any day and ask to use your EAP!

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2007

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