Traumatic stress is a normal reaction to a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, fire accident, motor accident, plane crash, shooting, or terrorist attack.
Such events are extraordinarily stressful, not just for survivors, but also witnesses and even those repeatedly exposed to the horrific images of the traumatic event circulated on social media and news sources.
But how do you get your life back after a fire accident? How do you come to accept your new skin, embrace your body and start loving and living life again?
Below are some tips to help you:
1. Accept your feelings
Traumatic stress can cause you to experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, including shock, anger, and guilt. These emotions are normal reactions to the loss of safety and security that comes in the wake of a disaster. Accepting these feelings and allowing yourself to feel what you feel, is necessary for healing.
To heal, do these things:
- Dealing with the painful emotions of traumatic stress
- Give yourself time to heal and to mourn any losses you’ve experienced.
- Don’t try to force the healing process.
- Be patient with the pace of recovery.
- Be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.
- Learn to reconnect to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
2. Challenge your sense of helplessness
Overcoming traumatic stress is all about taking action. Positive action can help you overcome feelings of fear, helplessness, and hopelessness—and even small acts can make a big difference.
Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. As well as helping you to connect to others, volunteering can challenge the sense of helplessness that contributes to trauma.
Remember that simply being helpful and friendly to others can deliver stress-reducing pleasure and challenge your sense of helplessness. Help a neighbor carry in their excess luggage, hold a door open for a stranger, share a smile with the people you meet during the day.
Connect with others affected by the traumatic event or participate in memorials, events, and other public rituals. Feeling connected to others and remembering the lives lost or broken in the event can help overcome the sense of hopelessness that often follows a tragedy.
3. Get moving
It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re experiencing traumatic stress, but exercising can burn off adrenaline and release feel-good endorphins to boost your mood.
Physical activity performed mindfully can also rouse your nervous system from that “stuck” feeling and help you move on from the traumatic event.
Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, or dancing—are good choices.
To add a mindful element, focus on your body and how it feels as you move. Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin.
Jogging, cycling, skipping, squats and all those exercises can make it easier to focus on your body movements simply because if you don’t, you could get injured.
If you’re struggling to find the energy or motivation to exercise, start by playing your favorite music and moving around or dancing. Once you get moving, you’ll start to feel more energetic.
Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more each day or if it’s easier, three 10-minute spurts of exercise are just as good.
4. Eat a healthy diet
The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with traumatic stress. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of traumatic stress.
Conversely, eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with the ups and downs that follow a tragic event.
By experimenting with new ways of eating that boosts mental health, you can find an eating plan that not only helps to relieve traumatic stress, but also boosts your energy and improves your outlook.
5. Reach out to others
You may be tempted to withdraw from friends and social activities following a traumatic event, but connecting face to face with other people is vital to recovery.
The simple act of talking face to face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve traumatic stress. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm your nervous system.
Reaching out to others doesn’t necessarily mean talking about the traumatic event. Comfort comes from feeling connected and involved with others you trust.
Do “normal” things with friends and loved ones, things that have nothing to do with the event that triggered your traumatic stress.
If you live alone or your social network is limited, it’s never too late to reach out to others and make new friends.
Take advantage of support groups, church gatherings, and community organizations. Join a sports team or hobby club to meet people with similar interests.
6. Self love is your best weapon
You are probably scarred, even if yours might not be so bad. It would take a lot of getting used to your new body, identity, look and the likes. Do not see that as something worth killing yourself over. Some way or the other, you have got to learn to love every fibre of your being.
Self love will get you through almost every low moment, trust us.